Postgraduate Research Vacancies at QUILL
Applications are invited for the PhD studentships detailed below, with study starting in October 2021.
These are full-time, fully-funded positions, covering tuition fees at the home rate, plus a stipend (approximately £15,285 per annum, based on 2020-21 value). Unless otherwise stated, the duration of these studentships is three years.
Whilst the projects which are currently available are listed below, additional projects may become available, so please check this page regularly for further details.
Available Projects at QUILL
Information is correct as of the 4th December 2020.
A 3-year, fully funded PhD position is available starting October 2021 in the QUILL Research Centre, under the supervision of Dr Gosia Swadźba-Kwaśny and Professor John Holbrey. The project is suitable for an independent thinking, enthusiastic student, interested in working at intersection of two topical areas: Ionic Liquids and Main Group Catalysis.
Frustrated Lewis pairs (FLPs) are combinations of Lewis acids and Lewis bases, prevented from the adduct formation by steric hindrance. Solutions of FLPs in non-coordinating organic solvents have been shown to contain low concentration of FLP encounter complexes, held together by weak interactions. In these encounter complexes, the proximity of Lewis acidic and basic sites leads to unusual reactivity: FLPs can activate hydrogen, in a manner similar to transition metal catalysis, but in the absence of transition metal. Other small molecules may also be activated, notably, recently reported was nitrogen activation.
Recently we discovered that the dissolution of FLPs in ionic liquids leads to enhanced encounter complex formation (Chem. Commun., 2018, 54, 8689) and to more elegant hydrogenation systems due to the absence of volatile organic solvent components. In this project, the student will study activation of small molecules, in particular activation of ammonia boranes to support a hydrogen economy, by FLP complexes generated in ionic liquids, and – more ambitiously – by designing and synthesising new ionic liquids materials that function as intrinsic FLPs.
A 3-year, fully funded PhD position is available starting October 2021 in the QUILL Research Centre, under the supervision of Dr Gosia Swadźba-Kwaśny and Professor John Holbrey. The project is suitable for an independent thinking, enthusiastic student, interested in tackling real-life sustainability challenges.
Mass-produced polymers, colloquially called plastics, have transformed our civilisation enabling the construction of light-weight, functional high performance materials and devices, in addition to ubiquitous, abundant and inexpensive single use items (such as cutlery and packaging). While we can (and should) strive to minimise single-use plastic and promote direct recycling and reuse to reduce the environmental impact (Fig 1) and promote sustainability, there are many areas where this is impractical or unfeasible, and alternative approaches including chemical recycling or repurposing are required.
Plastic waste can be recycled via several routes: depolymerisation to regenerate monomers, pyrolysis to low molecular weight chemical feedstocks, and gasification to syngas. In all cases, the most significant challenges related to the effects of contamination which can inhibit or deactivate traditional catalysts requiring redesign of catalysts. In this project, chemical recycling of waste plastics feedstocks will be investigated, developing novel, inexpensive, and robust acidic ionic liquid catalysts that can withstand the presence of inadvertent contamination and so overcome the major technical barrier to utilisation of waste plastics as chemical resources.
We welcome applications worldwide from candidates with high quality CVs and relevant experience. Post-doctoral researchers are particularly encouraged to apply for independent funding, such as:
- Royal Society of Chemistry
- Newton International Fellowships
- Leverhulme Trust
- EPSRC Postdoctoral Fellowships
- Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellowships
Candidates will receive strong support with these applications including assistance with research proposals.
Self-funded students are welcome to contact the center informally. If you plan to apply for a funding scheme, please contact us to discuss a potential project before applying formally.
Each year, we welcome Level 3 and 4 students for their final year research projects. Although individual projects vary, they follow the main research themes in the group. Each student works closely with a more experienced group member.
Undergraduate Summer Students
Funded summer studentships are available annually through various funding streams, including RSC and QUILL summer studentships. The deadlines for applications are quite early on in the year so students are encouraged to get in touch in advance to consider a potential application.