PhD: A Combined Computational And Experimental Approach Towards Rational Design Of Novel Photocatalytic Systems

University of Greenwich - Faculty of Engineering and Science


Hydrogen is a promising alternative clean energy resource. However, it is currently generated from fossil fuels yielding CO2. One way to produce hydrogen in a carbon-free approach is the direct photolysis of water with the help of a photocatalyst based on semiconductors and other novel functional materials. The aim of this project is to use a combined computational and experimental approach to rationally select, characterise and optimise functional-material systems to improve their photocatalytic activity. This will ultimately contribute to the development of sustainable energy carriers to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.

The proposed PhD project will start from the synthesis and characterisation of a range of composite photocatalytic systems. The effect of the supporting matrix and how it influences the water-splitting photocatalytic reaction will be assessed computationally by Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations and combined QM/MM approaches. Insights obtained from calculations will serve to rationalise the experimental observations and improve the system design.

The PhD student undertaking this project will work on an exciting interdisciplinary research area under the supervision of Dr Jiayun Pang and Dr Petra Szilagyi. During the project, the student will receive training in both experimental (electron microscopy, optical spectroscopy, etc.) and computational chemistry techniques, a skill combination increasingly valued by the research community and industry employers.

For further information please contact the supervisor:

Dr Jiayun Pang; Email:

Bursary available (subject to satisfactory performance):

Year 1: £14,553

Year 2: In line with RCUK rate       

Year 3: In line with RCUK rate

In addition, the successful candidate will receive a contribution to tuition fees equivalent to the university’s Home/EU rate, currently £4,195, for the duration of their scholarship. International applicants will need to pay the remainder tuition fee, currently £8,305, for the duration of their scholarship. This fee is subject to an annual increase. Scholarships are available for three years from the date scholars first register as an MPhil/PhD student with the university. Scholarships are available for full-time study only and applicants must meet the programme entry requirements. 

For additional information about the scholarship and links to the application form please go to: 

Please read this information before making an application. Applications need to be made online via No other form of application will be considered.

All applications must include the following information. Applications not containing these documents will not be considered.

  • Scholarship Reference Number (Ref) – included in the personal statement section together with your personal statement as to why you are applying
  • a research proposal *
  • a CV including 2 referees *
  • academic qualification certificates/transcripts and IELTs/English Language certificate if you are an international applicant or if English is not your first language or you are from a country where English is not the majority spoken language as defined by the UK Border Agency *

*upload to the qualification section of the application form. Attachments need to be in PDF format.

The closing date for applications is midnight (UTC) on Friday 13 October 2017.

The scholarship must commence before Thursday 30 November 2017.

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