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Organic Synthesis in Water with Blended Surfactants

PGR-P-1841

Key facts

Type of research degree
PhD
Application deadline
Tuesday 30 April 2024
Project start date
Tuesday 1 October 2024
Country eligibility
UK only
Funding
Competition funded
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Supervisors
Dr Timothy Hunter and Dr Bao Nguyen
Schools
School of Chemical and Process Engineering
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Surfactant-enabled organic synthesis has received much attention in recent years due to its ability to replace hazardous organic solvents. This is particularly useful in reactions which traditionally require polar aprotic solvents (Fig. 1).[1] When coupled with minimal use of solvent at workup/purification stage, these processes showed significant improvements in green metrics compared to processes using organic solvents.[2]<br /> <br /> Nguyen group have developed a Principal Component Analysis surfactant_map, which allowed rational selection of the most effective surfactant for each type of reaction, which is often outside of the popularised designer surfactants.[3] The ideal surfactant was found to be highly dependent on the type of reaction, and the solubility and partition of individual reactants, highlighting the need for surfactant optimisation for each synthetic process. This map was demonstrated in a direct fluorination of sulfonyl chloride in water with simple and cheap KF.2H2O as the source of fluoride.[4] <br /> <br /> In this project, a novel approach based on tunable blended mixtures of surfactants to support organic reactions in water will be developed.[5] This has the advantage of: (i) a smaller pool of cheap and well-characterised, non-hazardous surfactants from a regulatory perspective; (ii) being amenable to established optimisation techniques; (iii) having a wider temperature range in which the emulsions are stable compared to that of neutral designer surfactants (i.e. 10-70 C); and (iv) tunable surface potential and solubility for reaction and workup/purification stages.<br /> <br /> The student will be trained on synthetic methodology, green chemistry, colloidal science, multiphase flow chemistry and process/reaction optimisation with data science and AI/Machine Learning. In addition, the student will benefit from working in the highly interdisciplinary research environment in the iPRD (https://www.iprd.leeds.ac.uk/). A seminar programme, where aspects of synthetic chemistry, process chemistry and chemical engineering are discussed on a monthly basis, will be provided. Opportunities to present work and to network will be provided through the iPRD industrial club meetings, CheM62 meetings and AstraZeneca CASE events in addition to inter/national green chemistry conferences<br /> <br /> [1] Green Chem. 2015, 17, 644; [2] Green Chem. 2016, 18, 14; [3] EP/S013768/1, Water as synthetic reaction medium: realising its green chemistry credential; [4] submitted to Chem. Sci.; [5] Adv. Colloid Interface Sci. 2018, 251, 55.

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

<p>Surfactant-enabled organic synthesis has received much attention in recent years due to its ability to replace hazardous organic solvents. This is particularly useful in reactions which traditionally require polar aprotic solvents (Fig. 1).[1] When coupled with minimal use of solvent at workup/purification stage, these processes showed significant improvements in green metrics compared to processes using organic solvents.[2]</p> <p>Nguyen group have developed a Principal Component Analysis surfactant_map, which allowed rational selection of the most effective surfactant for each type of reaction, which is often outside of the popularised designer surfactants.[3] The ideal surfactant was found to be highly dependent on the type of reaction, and the solubility and partition of individual reactants, highlighting the need for surfactant optimisation for each synthetic process. This map was demonstrated in a direct fluorination of sulfonyl chloride in water with simple and cheap KF.2H2O as the source of fluoride.[4]</p> <p>In this project, a novel approach based on tunable blended mixtures of surfactants to support organic reactions in water will be developed.[5] This has the advantage of: (i) a smaller pool of cheap and well-characterised, non-hazardous surfactants from a regulatory perspective; (ii) being amenable to established optimisation techniques; (iii) having a wider temperature range in which the emulsions are stable compared to that of neutral designer surfactants (i.e. 10-70 C); and (iv) tunable surface potential and solubility for reaction and workup/purification stages.</p> <p>The student will be trained on synthetic methodology, green chemistry, colloidal science, multiphase flow chemistry and process/reaction optimisation with data science and AI/Machine Learning. In addition, the student will benefit from working in the highly interdisciplinary research environment in the iPRD (https://www.iprd.leeds.ac.uk/). A seminar programme, where aspects of synthetic chemistry, process chemistry and chemical engineering are discussed on a monthly basis, will be provided. Opportunities to present work and to network will be provided through the iPRD industrial club meetings, CheM62 meetings and AstraZeneca CASE events in addition to inter/national green chemistry conferences</p> <p>[1] Green Chem. 2015, 17, 644; [2] Green Chem. 2016, 18, 14; [3] EP/S013768/1, Water as synthetic reaction medium: realising its green chemistry credential; [4] submitted to Chem. Sci.; [5] Adv. Colloid Interface Sci. 2018, 251, 55.</p>

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

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.leeds.ac.uk/research-applying/doc/applying-research-degrees">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the Planned Course of Study section that you are applying for <em><strong>PHD Chemistry</strong></em> and in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is Organic Synthesis in Water with Blended Surfactants as well as <a href="https://baonguyen.group/">Dr Bao Nguyen&nbsp;</a> as your proposed supervisor&nbsp;and in the finance section, please state clearly&nbsp;<em><strong>the funding that you are applying for, if you are self-funding or externally sponsored</strong></em>.</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>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="text-align:start; margin-bottom:24px">Applications will be considered on an ongoing basis. &nbsp;Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervisors for an informal discussion before making a formal application. &nbsp;We also advise that you apply at the earliest opportunity as the application and selection process may close early, should we receive a sufficient number of applications or that a suitable candidate is appointed.</p> <p>Please note that you must provide the following documents in support of your application by the closing date of 8 April 2024 if you are applying for the Leeds Doctoral Scholarship/Leeds Opportunity Research Scholarship.&nbsp; If you are not applying for these Scholarships then you must provide your documents by no later than 30 April 2024:</p> <ul> <li>Full Transcripts of all degree study or if in final year of study, full transcripts to date</li> <li>Personal Statement outlining your interest in the project</li> <li>CV</li> </ul>

<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 style="margin-bottom:12px"><strong>Self-Funded or externally sponsored students are welcome to apply.</strong></p> <p><strong>UK</strong>&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/209-leeds-doctoral-scholarships-2022">Leeds Doctoral Scholarships</a> and <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/234-leeds-opportunity-research-scholarship-2022">Leeds Opportunity Research Scholarship</a> are available to UK applicants (<strong>please note that the closing date is 8 April 2023 at 17:00</strong>). <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/60-alumni-bursary">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p>Please refer to the <a href="https://www.ukcisa.org.uk/">UKCISA</a> website for information regarding Fee Status for Non-UK Nationals.</p>

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

<p>For further information about this project, please contact the Dr Bao Nguyen by email to&nbsp;<a href="mailto:b.nguyen@leeds.ac.uk">b.nguyen@leeds.ac.uk</a>&nbsp;or by telephone to&nbsp;+44 (0)113 343 0109.</p> <p>For further information about your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions by email to&nbsp;<a href="mailto:maps.pgr.admissions@leeds.ac.uk">maps.pgr.admissions@leeds.ac.uk</a></p>


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