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Nanoscale transport mechanisms in zeolites and metal-organic frameworks


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Friday 17 April 2020
Project start date
Thursday 1 October 2020
Country eligibility
UK and EU
Source of funding
Doctoral training partnership
Dr Sean Collins and Professor Rik Drummond-Brydson
School of Chemical and Process Engineering
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Microporous materials, with pores less than 2 nm in size, are central materials technologies for chemical separations and catalysis and, increasingly, show promise for energy storage applications. The high surface areas of microporous materials are particularly valuable for heterogeneous catalysis, which underpins the vast majority of industrial processes. However, direct, nanoscale measurement of the microstructure in these materials (from microns down to individual atoms) is largely absent due to limited analytical tools. Moreover, many of these materials undergo secondary modification after initial synthesis (e.g. amorphisation, transition metal ion exchange) introducing changes that are not homogeneously distributed throughout the material. Critically, the local changes in structure and chemistry, as well interactions between adjacent small and larger scale pore networks, control the macroscopic transport of fluids, gases, and ions in these materials for industrial applications. This project will establish a mechanistic understanding of chemical transport in microporous materials at the nanoscale through the use and development of advanced electron microscopy. The aims of the project will be to track molecules and ions in microporous materials. The project will involve combining multiple cutting edge electron microscopy and focused ion beam techniques as well as machine learning and artificial intelligence-guided data processing. The project will in turn develop key insights for industrial catalyst design and optimization and for emerging materials engineered three-dimensionally and at the atomic scale.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>The project will build on recent work on the two- and three-dimensional imaging of composition<span class="superscript_text">1,2</span> and nanoscale optical properties<span class="superscript_text">3</span> in metal-organic framework (MOF) glasses (Fig. 1). The student will use these tools and develop innovative analytical approaches to investigate chemical transport in a variety of zeolites (microporous silicate materials) and MOF materials. By using a combination of spectroscopy, tomography, and electron diffraction, the student will develop tools to track molecules and ions introduced into the microporous material at the nano- to atomic-scale. By achieving two- and three-dimensional maps of the location, chemical coordination, and local bonding of these agents for controlled processing times, comprehensive mechanisms for chemical transport will be developed.</p> <p>The student will make use of the Leeds Titan Themis transmission electron microscope as well as the Helios G4 DualBeam focused ion beam scanning electron microscope as well as auxiliary tools for bulk characterization. The student will also join trips to the electron Phyiscal Sciences Imaging Centre at the Diamond Light Source (Harwell, Oxfordshire, UK) and to SuperSTEM, the EPSRC National Facility for Advanced Electron Microscopy (Daresbury, Cheshire, UK). The project will be embedded within a multidisciplinary environment across the School of Chemical and Process Engineering as well as the School of Chemistry and the Bragg Centre for Materials Research.</p> <p>References:</p> <ol> <li>Longley, L.; Collins, S. M.; et al. Liquid Phase Blending of Metal-Organic Frameworks. Nat. Commun. 2018, 9 (1), 2135.&nbsp;<a href=""></a>.</li> <li>Hou, J.; Ashling, C. W.; Collins, S. M.; et al. Metal-Organic Framework Crystal-Glass Composites. Nat. Commun. 2019, 10 (1), 1&ndash;10.&nbsp;<a href=""></a>.</li> <li>Collins, S. M.; et al. Subwavelength Spatially Resolved Coordination Chemistry of Metal&ndash;Organic Framework Glass Blends. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140 (51), 17862&ndash;17866.&nbsp;<a href=""></a>.</li> </ol>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is &lsquo;Nanoscale transport mechanisms in zeolites and metal-organic frameworks&rsquo; as well as <a href="">Dr Sean Collins</a> and&nbsp;<a href="">Professor Rik Drummond-Brydson</a>&nbsp;as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>UK/EU &ndash; Engineering &amp; Physical Sciences Research Council Doctoral Training Partnerships for 3.5 years, consisting of&nbsp;academic fees (&pound;4,600 in Session 2020/21), together with a maintenance grant (&pound;15,285 in Session 2020/21) paid at standard Research Council rates. UK applicants will be eligible for a full award paying tuition fees and maintenance. European Union applicants will be eligible for an award paying tuition fees only, except in exceptional circumstances, or where residency has been established for more than 3 years prior to the start of the course.&nbsp; Funding is awarded on a competitive basis.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information regarding your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions by&nbsp;email:&nbsp;<a href=""></a>, or by telephone: +44 (0)113 343 5057</p> <p>For further information regarding the project, please contact Dr Sean Collins:&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href=""></a>&nbsp;or Professor Rik Drummond-Brydson:&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked funding opportunities</h3>
<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>