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Exploring 2D molecular arrays as a route to controlling the atomic structure of electrocatalytic carbon nanoelectrodes

PGR-P-682

Key facts

Type of research degree
PhD
Application deadline
Friday 17 April 2020
Project start date
Thursday 1 October 2020
Country eligibility
UK and EU
Funding
Competition funded
Source of funding
Research council
Supervisors
Dr Thomas Chamberlain and Dr Adam Sweetman
Schools
School of Chemistry, School of Physics and Astronomy
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

This inter-disciplinary project, based across the Schools of Chemistry and Physics at the University of Leeds, will develop new nanostructured assemblies on surfaces to be exploited in electrocatalysis and sensing applications.

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

<p>In particular, metal functionalised fullerene derivatives will be synthesised in <a href="https://eps.leeds.ac.uk/chemistry/staff/4213/dr-tom-chamberlain">Dr Chamberlain&rsquo;s group</a>&nbsp;and the affinity of the carbon cages for surfaces will be harnessed to generate 2D molecular arrays via solution and gas phase deposition in ambient and ultra-high vacuum environments in <a href="https://nca.fm/">Dr Sweetman&rsquo;s group</a>. You will investigate the structural relationship between molecules and supra-molecular arrays in 2D, perform cutting edge surface characterisation of molecular arrays and exploit lithographic techniques to generate bespoke nanostructures. The value of the approach will be demonstrated through utilisation of these structures in exemplar catalytic reactions. &nbsp;In summary, this new approach to generating nanomaterials in which the location of the active species, i.e. the metal component, can be controlled at the atomic scale will open up a whole new set of solutions to the world&rsquo;s technological challenges.</p> <p>This project will target the development of functional fullerene building blocks and exploit the self-assembly of these materials on surfaces for the fabrication of novel 2D nanomaterials. These multifunctional nanocarbon-metal hybrid materials will be explored as a route to tackling critical scientific challenges, primarily electrocatalysis and sensing. &nbsp;As the principle component of such nanomaterials will be both renewable and almost infinitely available, <em>i.e.</em> carbon, this represents a sustainable route to novel nanomaterials.</p> <p>The project will exploit a combination of fullerene cages and various transition metal complexes to create hybrid structures which exhibit exciting functional properties including enhanced electron beam sensitivity (enabling lithography to generate novel nanostructures) and tuneable catalytic activity. To achieve this the project will employ chemical functionalisation of the fullerene cage with a combination of structurally directing and metal-binding units, which will enable covalent, coordination and non-covalent supramolecular interactions with fullerene species and bulk surfaces and support materials to generate novel metal containing nanomaterials.</p> <p>Advanced surface techniques including scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) and noncontact atomic force microscopy (NC-AFM) will be utilised to characterise, and manipulate, the structure and properties of the assembled molecular films in real space with sub-molecular resolution. Synthesis of the films will be performed both in ambient conditions and in ultra-high-vacuum (UHV) environments using novel electrospray and thermal deposition techniques. Importantly, this ultra high resolution characterisation will allow us to identify and study the properties of the active sites of the molecules in a local (atomic scale) fashion, providing a direct route to understanding the material&rsquo;s ensemble properties by direct observation of its atomic scale structure.</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://eps.leeds.ac.uk/chemistry-research-degrees/doc/apply">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 &ldquo;Exploring 2D molecular arrays as a route to controlling the atomic structure of electrocatalytic carbon nanoelectrodes&rdquo; as well as <a href="https://eps.leeds.ac.uk/chemistry/staff/4213/dr-tom-chamberlain">Dr Tom Chamberlain</a> and <a href="https://eps.leeds.ac.uk/physics/staff/5375/dr-adam-sweetman">Dr Adam&nbsp;Sweetman</a> as your proposed supervisors.</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.

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

<p style="text-align: justify; line-height: normal;"><strong><span style="color:#4a4a4a; mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-fareast-language:EN-GB">UK/EU</span></strong><span style="color:#4a4a4a; mso-bidi-font-family:Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-fareast-language:EN-GB"> &ndash;&nbsp;Engineering &amp; Physical Sciences Research Council Studentship&nbsp;for 3.5 years. A full standard studentship consists of 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. Funding is awarded on a competitive basis.</span></p>

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

<p>For further information regarding the application procedure, please contact Doctoral College Admissions:<br /> e: <a href="mailto:maps.pgr.admissions@leeds.ac.uk">maps.pgr.admissions@leeds.ac.uk</a> , t: +44 (0)113 343 5057.</p> <p>For further information regarding the project, please contact Dr Thomas Chamberlain by email:&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="mailto:T.W.Chamberlain@leeds.ac.uk">T.W.Chamberlain@leeds.ac.uk</a></p>


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