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School of Physical and Chemical Sciences

Conversion of CO2 to Value-added Chemicals & Materials: from Fundamental Principles to Experimental Design

Research Group: Chemistry
Number of Students: 1
Length of Study in Years: 4 Years
Full-time Project: yes


Funding is provided via the China Scholarship Council.  

  • Available to Chinese applicants only.
  • Applicant required to start in September 2024.
  • The studentship arrangement will cover overseas tuition fees for the duration of the studentship.

Project Description

The rising level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth's atmosphere caused by excessive emissions from fossil fuels is the primary cause of global warming. One of the most attractive solutions is the conversion of CO2 into value-added chemicals and materials. The PhD student in this project will develop and apply state-of-the-art computational methods, complemented by experiments, to elucidate the elementary steps controlling the electrocatalytic CO2 reduction reaction to chemicals (e.g., carbon monoxide, formic acid, ethylene, and ethanol) or the CO2 mineralization into solid carbonate-based materials. Current active projects in Dr Di Tommaso’s group in the area of CO2 conversion are listed below and include collaborations with other leading academic groups in the UK, Europe, China, and Japan.

  • Tunable metal-alloy-based catalysts for the electrocatalytic conversion of CO2
  • Tracking of CO2 mineralization using neutron scattering and atomistic simulations
  • Metalloporphyrin-based catalyst design towards CO2 reduction
  • Machine learning models for CO2 reduction electrocatalysts

Training & Development: The studentship is multidisciplinary and could be either purely computational or involve a combination of computational and experimental techniques. Computer simulations: quantum chemistry, molecular dynamics, machine learning, and scientific programming. Materials synthesis and characterization: nanostructured functional materials, processing into electrodes, incorporation into devices, and testing of their structural and catalytic properties for CO2 conversion, and neutron scattering. As such, the PhD project will provide opportunities for training in a wide range of contemporary computational and materials chemistry techniques and will equip the successful applicants with a highly desirable portfolio of scientific and transferable skills.

Research environment. The Department’s strong research performance is evidenced by the 8th place in the UK for Research Impact and the 9th place in the UK for Research Output in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021. The Department is located on the Mile End campus, only 20-30 minutes from central London by public transport.


Requirements: Applications are invited from outstanding candidates of Chinese nationality holding or expecting to gain a degree in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, or Engineering with an interest in computational, physical chemistry, and materials research. The position is available within the research group of Dr Devis Di Tommaso at the Department of Chemistry, part of the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). Contact Dr Di Tommaso by email (, along with a full CV and the contact details of at least two referees.

Application Method:

To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the Chemistry programme (Full Time) please follow the instructions detailed on the following webpage:

Deadline for application - 31st of January 2024

Supervisor Contact Details:

For informal enquiries about this position, please contact Devis Di Tommaso


  • The minimum requirement for this studentship opportunity is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) and MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent).
  • You will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score of 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking) at the time of application to the CSC.

SPCS Academics: Dr Devis Di Tommaso