In-operando studies of structure and conductivity in materials for energy applications

University of Birmingham - School of Chemistry, University of Birmingham; ISIS Neutron Facility; Diamond Light Source

Joint PhD studentship between Dr Paul Anderson, Prof. Peter Slater and Dr Joe Hriljac, School of Chemistry, University of Birmingham, Prof. Martin Jones, ISIS Neutron Facility, and Dr Phil Chater, Diamond Light Source (DLS)

Project description: Within the research area of energy materials, the determination of ionic mobility, whether for batteries, fuel cell electrolytes or low energy barrier hydrogen sorption, is a critical goal. Most hydrogen-containing energy storage media and fuel cell electrolytes operate at elevated temperatures and pressures; studies of these systems under operating conditions (in-operando) will require new sample environments to be developed.

To address this need, this studentship will develop two new complementary high temperature, high pressure conductivity sample environments for use at ISIS neutron spallation facility and DLS X-ray beamlines. The student will work closely with staff at both of these Oxfordshire-based world-leading facilities and play a major part in the design, manufacture and testing of the new sample environments. The new environments will then be commissioned in a series of high profile joint neutron/X-ray studies on systems synthesized at the University of Birmingham, including monitoring solid oxide fuel cell electrolytes and anode materials under reducing conditions, amide halide hydrogen storage materials during hydrogen cycling, and structural changes in lithium ion battery electrolytes. Alongside standard structural characterization techniques using powder diffraction, local structural studies (exploiting the pair distribution function to look at short-range ordering in these materials) are expected to play a key role in understanding conduction mechanisms in the systems of interest. The project will ultimately lead to a better understanding of the structure of various materials which may play a crucial part in future energy applications.

Starting date: January 2017

How to apply: For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Paul Anderson at For general information on Chemistry PhD at the University of Birmingham, please visit

To apply online, visit

Additional Funding Information
A scholarship to cover University fees and provide 36 months maintenance at standard RCUK rates (£14,237 for 2015-16) is available for UK/EU students with a minimum of a good (>65%) upper second class or higher integrated masters (MSci/MChem) degree (or equivalent) in chemistry or a related discipline. Students with a combination of a good BSc degree followed by an MSc with >60% in all taught elements will also qualify.

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Midlands of England