Below, you can find out more about our currently available funded postgraduate research positions, including eligibility criteria and funding details.
(Information within this section is correct as of 23th June 2023)
General Information applicable to all the projects:
- Due to funding restrictions, the position is only available for UK-resident candidates
- Full eligibility and funding information can be viewed via https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/department-economy-studentships
- Candidates must possess or expect to obtain, a 2:1 or first-class degree in Chemistry or closely related discipline
- Candidates must be available to start the post by October 2023 at the latest
Friday 28th July 2023
How to Apply
Applications must be submitted online via the University's Postgraduate Application Portal.
The School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the Queen’s University Belfast is inviting applications for the following fully-funded PhD project/studentship, expected to commence in October 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter. Closing date is 18th August 2023.
Cyanoacrylate adhesives, known as “super glues,” are composed of cyanoacrylate monomers which rapidly polymerize in the presence of moisture. These adhesives are renowned for high tensile strength and fast setting times, and are used in diverse applications such as household repairs, industrial applications such as assembly of parts and components in the electronics, automotive and luxury goods sectors and even in the medical field for sutureless wound closure.
However, there are drawbacks to the cyanoacrylates currently utilized and the processes that underpin them. Traditional cyanoacrylates often form brittle polymers that are sensitive to moisture and high temperatures, and current industrial production of such monomers has a high energy demand and limits their scope due to the requirement to thermally “crack” oligomers formed during the synthesis.
In this project, the candidate will explore and design new cyanoacrylates and related monomers suitable for use in adhesive applications. The project will involve the synthesis of these materials through existing and new ‘crackless’ synthetic routes, and also explore more contemporary synthetic technologies such as continuous flow best suited to the new routes. Once synthesised, the candidate will characterize materials using advanced spectroscopic methods. Electron-deficient olefins are also attractive and common intermediates in organic synthesis, so new methods for their formation will be highly valuable beyond the adhesive field. There is a significant opportunity to create both new intellectual property and research publications based on the results of the project.
This project is a collaboration between the Knipe Lab – a synthetic chemistry lab based in Queen’s University Belfast – and Aeardis – an industrial consultancy with over three decades of experience in the field of polymers and adhesives. The project will be primarily hosted in the Knipe Lab.
Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, an honours degree at 2.1 or 1st in Chemistry or a closely associated discipline.
A Master’s degree and experience in synthetic chemistry would be advantageous.
Enquiries and Applications
Informal enquiries are welcomed and should be directed to Dr Peter Knipe (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Formal applications should be made via Queens University Belfast’s online application portal https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/user/u_login.php
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
We value a diverse research environment and aim to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We welcome and encourage applications from under-represented groups.
If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.
Electron-deficient olefins; cyanoacrylates; adhesives; superglue; organic synthesis; organic spectroscopy; continuous flow; industry.
The project is fully funded inclusive of tuition fees (for students from NI, ROI or GB, see “Eligibility” section), stipend at the UKRI rate (£18,622 in the first year), travel and consumables.
The project is funded inclusive of fees for students from Northern Ireland,1 the Republic of Ireland2 and Great Britain.1 Students from outside these jurisdictions will be ineligible for the position.
The fee will be calculated on a monthly basis, pro-rated for the academic year, based on the month a student commences study.
1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, will be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB will be charged the GB fee.
2 ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements.
Providing clean water to a growing global population is a huge challenge and there is now a pressing need for us to develop better methods to measure water quality, since these underpin efforts to prevent pollution and measure the success of remediation efforts.
The prevalence of microplastics in the environment is a source of real concern. Detecting, identifying and measuring microparticles which are present at low concentrations is hugely challenging but is important because such measurements underpin efforts to understand the nature and extent of the problem and to support remediation efforts.
This project will bring together a well-known academic team working in vibrational spectroscopy with a commercial partner who have a strong track record in producing water sensors for industrial applications. The aim is to make a step change in the capabilities of water quality sensors and develop the next generation of instruments will allow detection and identification of microparticulates in the field with accuracy and sensitivity that is well beyond what is currently possible. The aim will be to develop fieldable remote sensors for continuous monitoring that can be deployed and operated in harsh conditions. The work will involve a combination of spectroscopy developed in an academic laboratory with optical instrument development work which will be carried out in collaboration with the partner company at their site. It will be complemented an ongoing project funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) that is centred on investigating a different aspect of this same problem. This is an opportunity to both carry out leading edge science and to contribute to bringing the benefits of that research to an important real-world challenge.
For more information please contact: Professor Steven Bell (S.Bell@qub.ac.uk)
All available postgraduate research opportunities at the School can be found below - simply select the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering from the "All Schools" dropdown menu to view available projects.