PhD Studentship: Degradation and Ion Exchange Mechanisms in Metatorbernite-Type (Cu(UO2)2(XO4)2.8H2O, X=As, P) Minerals; Implications for Remediation of Radiochemical Waste

The University of Edinburgh

A PhD studentship is available in the School of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh under the supervision of Dr Caroline Kirk, and Dr Margaret Graham, (School of Geosciences).

Metatorbernite (Cu(UO2)2(PO4)2.8H2O), is a common secondary mineral resulting from pitchblende alteration and can be considered as a significant host for uranium in both natural and anthropogenically contaminated environments. Our analysis of samples taken from spoil heaps from a disused uranium mine in South Terras, Cornwall, have found the presence of mineral phases which can be thought of as members of a metatorbernite-metazeunerite solid solution (Cu(UO2)2(XO4)2.8H2O, X=As, P). Synthesis of metatorbernite-type phases have been carried out and investigations into the formation and structure of these phases have shown stability is dependent on composition.

This project will focus on understanding degradation and ion exchange mechanisms in this family of minerals using both laboratory and synchrotron based techniques. Results from this study will allow possible remediation strategies to be implemented and prevent the release of toxic elements into the environment.

Applicants must be in possession of (or expecting to obtain) a first class or upper-second class degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry or other cognate discipline before the start of the PhD. Essential qualities include a strong background in a broad range of materials chemistry characterisation techniques and basic synthesis skills. Other essential attributes are good presentation and communication skills, both written and oral. In the first instance, informal enquiries (accompanied by a CV, covering letter, and contact details of two referees) should be directed to Dr Caroline Kirk (

For the formal application procedure see: The studentship is fully funded for 36 months (Starting date is September 2018) and covers UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend (starting at £14.5k per annum) for a candidate satisfying EPSRC’s criteria.

Applications will be considered until an excellent candidate has been identified.

The School of Chemistry holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education. The University is a member of the Race Equality Charter and is a Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champion, actively promoting LGBT equality. The University has a range of initiatives to support a family friendly working environment. See our University Initiatives website for further information. University Initiatives website: 

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