Fully funded 48-month PhD studentships in a range of STEM disciplines available at the EPSRC and SFI CDT in Sustainable Chemistry: Atoms-2-Products

Fully funded 48-month PhD studentships in a range of STEM disciplines available at
the EPSRC and SFI CDT in Sustainable Chemistry: Atoms-2-Products

The EPSRC and SFI Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Sustainable Chemistry: Atoms-2-Products, would like to invite suitably qualified and highly motivated applicants from all STEM disciplines to apply for 48-month PhD studentships to work in one of three Research Thematic areas:

  • Targeting synthesis routes and novel materials from sustainable flow processing (TRANSFER)
  • Bioelectrochemical applications for sustainable technologies (BeAST)
  • A New generation of sustainable thermoelectric materials and devices: HeatToPower (H2P)
CDT Training Programme

Our students will undertake a 4-year PhD programme, where the first year offers the opportunity to access a balanced combination of core and research theme training activities. Our core training is designed to equip students with knowledge and tools related to the broader aspects of their research such as sustainability, entrepreneurial skills, and responsible research and innovation, and will include a wide range of workshops focusing on professional skills, career development and wellbeing. Research theme training will focus on topics specific to each of the three themes. The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, workshops, group activities and lab sessions.

Over the remaining three years, whilst working on their research projects, students will continue to receive cross-disciplinary training and research and will be presented with a wide range of additional training opportunities tailored to support them at the different stages of their PhD cycle.

Research Themes for the academic year 2022/23

BeAST: Bio-electrochemical Applications for Sustainable Technologies

Cells operate in part by careful orchestration of bioelectrical circuits. Bio-electrochemical systems (BES) in which we finely control these circuits offer a potentially disruptive technology to sustainable produce chemicals. This will be achieved by the advancement in microbial synthesis using renewable electricity, H2 and CO2 from waste or captured from the atmosphere. This CDT Theme proposal will enable a step-change in our ability to tune the electrical-cellular-directed production of valuable chemicals from waste gases. This will be accomplished by engineering bioelectrical circuits and biomimetic wiring of cells to electrodes. The material of the electrodes will be modulated using novel catalytic mechanisms able to integrate with conductive wires and redox bio-circuits enabling paradigm-shifting methods to control the underlying biology.

Research Theme-specific training activities:

  • Electrophysiology and conjugating chemistry
  • Material science: electrode/catalyst design and synthesis
  • Synthetic biology, bio-nanoscience: utilising and exploiting synthetic molecular machines
  • Structural biology: macromolecular assemblies, protein engineering
  • Molecular modelling of dynamical catalytic and charge transfer systems
  • Advanced spectroscopy

Available research areas:

  • Gas-enabled BES design and fermentation
  • Electrode/catalyst design and synthesis
  • Engineering biology and microbiology with the pharmaceutical or industrial biotechnology applications
  • Microbial cellular processes and metabolism
  • Biochemistry and computational chemistry

The BeAST Theme welcomes graduates from a wide range of STEM disciplines including Chemistry, Electrochemistry, Bioelectrochemistry, Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Pharmacy, Synthetic Biology, Computational Biology/Chemistry, Material science or a closely related subject.

For further information about the BeAST Theme, please view the Theme video.

TRANSFER: Targeting synthesis routes and novel materials from sustainable flow processing

The Industry 4.0 and Digital Chemistry movements are changing the way we make products and at the heart of these are additive manufacturing (AM, aka 3D-printing) and flow technologies. AM can enable us to make free-form shapes with tailored chemistry and surface types. This can be used as reactor parts in flow technologies to control synthesis and materials assembly in ways not previously possible. TRANSFER will exploit these advantages and, using inline analysis, immediately optimise a reaction process for the materials properties (e.g. making a catalyst and directly using it in the same stream to evaluate its efficiency). The technologies developed for these processes can then be directly used to scale-up from discovery to production.

In this highly collaborative theme based both at the University of Nottingham and University College Dublin, our students will:

  • Gain an understanding of the whole process cycle: Reactor design, synthesis and assembly, online analysis, machine learning enhanced self-optimisation and production
  • Appreciate the importance of the life cycle of these processes and how to address energy and materials waste minimisation and using sustainable methods and resources throughout the whole research
  • Work in a collaborative interdisciplinary team of engineers, chemists, materials scientists and physicists

The TRANSFER Theme welcomes applications from graduates from all STEM disciplines.

For further information about the TRANSFER Theme, please view the Theme video.

HeatToPower: New Generation Sustainable Thermoelectric Materials and Devices

In the present era, heat management and the generation of clean energy are critical issues for society. Thermoelectric materials help in two ways – they can convert waste heat into electrical energy, or run in reverse, they provide refrigeration with no moving parts. Today’s thermoelectric technologies are unsustainable and are held back from mass adoption by global resource issues. This Theme brings together experts from Chemistry, Physics and Engineering to provide the interdisciplinary and innovative approach required to build a new generation of thermoelectric materials using approaches ranging from novel organic synthesis, nanomaterials and nanocomposites, and two-dimensional materials.

Students in this theme will gain experience and training in a range of topics:

  • Motivations, challenges, and solutions in sustainable energy
  • Life cycle assessment of emerging technologies
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to research at the Chemistry/Physics/Engineering interface
  • The theory and practice of thermoelectric devices and systems
  • Perspectives on industrial research and development

The HeatToPower Theme welcomes applications form a range of disciplines including Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, Engineering or other closely related subjects.

For further information about the HeathToPower Theme, please view the Theme video.

Benefits of joining our CDT
  • An excellent research environment, with world class facilities
  • Access to an extensive cross-disciplinary training programme
  • Purposefully tailored research theme-specific technical/lab training
  • Cohort approach to training with emphasis on collaborative work in smaller teams
  • Access to training activities facilitated by BiOrbic, University College Dublin
  • Access to external training, workshops and conferences
  • Excellent professional skills training package
  • Opportunity of fully funded external internships with national/international companies or academic/other institutions
  • An annual stipend of £15,609
Application criteria

Ideally, candidates will hold one of the following:

  • A minimum of an upper second-class honours degree from a 4-year undergraduate course, or equivalent in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics,  Material Science, Natural Sciences, Biotechnology, Pharmacy, Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Pharmacy, Synthetic Biology, Computational Biology/Chemistry or a related subject
  • A 3-year undergraduate course in one of the above disciplines plus a Master’s degree and/or at least one year’s experience in industry

The Centre would particularly welcome enthusiastic and highly motivated applicants with a strong academic curiosity and strong aptitude for research. Applicants should be committed to working in cross-disciplinary teams and be passionate about working towards a more sustainable future.

Eligibility information

Fully funded scholarships at the EPSRC and SFI CDT in Sustainable Chemistry are open to home and international students,  In line with the UKRI guidance on EU and international eligibility, we are able to recruit a limited umber of  international students.

The University of Nottingham and our CDT are committed to providing an inclusive study environment for all students. We welcome applications from candidates from different backgrounds and protected characteristics, including those from BAME backgrounds.

We offer flexibility in provision of student support including disability support plans and mechanisms to accommodate those with caring responsibilities including maternity and paternity leave.

For more information and to apply, please visit our website.

Application deadline: 13 December 2021

Our virtual Applicant Information event event takes place on 1 December 12-12.45pm.  To attend, please register here




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