School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Electrocatalysts in Nanotubes: A Nanotechnology Computational and Experimental Approach

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is one the UK's leading research-focused higher education institutions, where multidisciplinary research is carried out at the highest level. It is a member of the prestigious Russell group of top UK universities, ranked 11th in Europe in the latest CWTS Leiden Ranking.

QMUL and China Scholarship Council (CSC) have created a scholarship program to enable talented Chinese students to undertake a PhD at QMUL. The scholarships build on QMUL's existing relationship with China. QMUL has extensive research links with Chinese research institutions and Universities. The CSC Scholarships at QMUL are supported jointly by both QMUL and the CSC is open to all subject areas. QMUL is one of the largest supporters of CSC in the UK and welcomes around fifty new PhD students on QMUL-CSC scholarships every year.

There is a potential PhD project under the joint supervision of Dr Devis Di Tommaso (webspace.qmul.ac.uk/dditommaso/) and Dr Matteo Palma (webspace.qmul.ac.uk/mpalma/) for the design of nanocarbon electrocatalysts.

Project description

The rising level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth’s atmosphere caused by the excessive emission from fossil fuel is the main cause of global warming. With CO2 emissions coming from countries such as China (>10 GT of CO2 emitted in 2015), the development of efficient technologies for the capture and utilization of atmospheric COrepresent a huge challenge, but also an opportunity, for the economy.
One of the most attractive strategies to reduce fossil fuel consumption and climate-changing emissions would be to convert CO2 into low carbon fuels. Such a strategy can reduce the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere, produce useful chemicals, thus relieving our dependency on conventional fossil resources. CO2 is a notoriously inert molecule and catalysts are needed to activate and convert it into higher value products such as formic acid (HCOOH), methane (CH4), methanol (CH3OH), ethanol (C2H6O), and other higher hydrocarbons.

The aim of this PhD project is the development of atomistic simulation methods (mostly quantum mechanical ones but also Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics) for the design of inexpensive, environmentally friendly catalysts based on one-dimensional carbon nanotubes and Earth-abundant metals (Ni, Cu, Fe) that could efficiently and selectively transform carbon dioxide into value-added chemicals.

The student on this project will be trained in molecular modelling, including quantum chemistry, forcefield, and molecular dynamics techniques. This project will also benefit from the strong links with the Materials Chemistry group headed by Matteo Palma (webspace.qmul.ac.uk/mpalma/), which will provide experimental validation of the computational approaches.

Eligibility and applying

Applications are invited from outstanding candidates of Chinese nationality holding or expecting to gain a degree in Chemistry, Physics, Engineering or Materials Science, and an interest in computational research. An enquiring and rigorous approach to research, as well as good team-working and communication skills (both presentation and written English) is essential. Experience in computational research is desirable but not essential.

Applicants must also meet the general entry requirements.

To apply, applicants should first contact Dr Di Tommaso (d.ditommaso@qmul.ac.uk) by email, along with a full CV and the contact details of at least two referees. If Dr Di Tommaso agrees to take your application further, please submit an online application by the stated deadline.

See also