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PhD Studentship in the gas adsorption properties of porphyrin-based polymeric materials

Physics & Astronomy

Location:  UK Other
Closing Date:  Thursday 09 February 2023
Reference:  SCI2120

A funded PhD studentship is available in the group of Dr Alex Saywell at the University of Nottingham to work in the field of surface confined molecular systems. The studentship will be hosted within the School of Physics and Astronomy Nanoscience group where you will have access to a range of experimental techniques, including low-temperature ultra-high vacuum scanning probe microscopy (SPM) and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopies, and will be part of a vibrant research community. You will undertake experimental studies characterising the properties of novel porphyrin polymers which contain ‘chemically active’ metal atoms to act as ligation sites for gaseous species. A particular focus will be the investigation of gas adsorption properties of these porphyrin-based polymeric materials with respect the capture and storage of various pollutant gasses (e.g. CO2 and NOx) produced by industrial process: with the removal/reduction of these gases from the atmosphere being of significant environmental importance.

The Saywell group has previously demonstrated that porphyrin-based polymers can be deposited onto surfaces held under ultra-high vacuum conditions via an electrospray deposition (ESD) technique to allow scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) characterisation of structural and electronic properties [see figure for example STM data, as well as published work: Phys. Rev. Lett. 125, 206803 (2020), Sci. Rep. 9, 9352 (2019), Nature 469, 72 (2011)]. You will have the oportunity to further develope this research by performing state-of-the-art near-ambient pressure x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (NAP-XPS) measurements to characterise chemical and structural details of gas adsorption upon extended porphyrin architectures. This approach allows the potential for tailoring specific molecular architectures, e.g. linear/cyclic/branched, to promote efficient and/or selective gas capture, to be explored. The concept of cooperative gas adsorption, where interactions between neighbouring porphyrins alters ligation properties of the system, will be probed by a combination of low-temperature STM and NAP-XPS.

The research activities will be conducted as part of a collaborative research programme, involving researchers from the University of Oxford (Prof. H. Anderson) and colleagues from the University of Nottingham (Dr J. O’Shea). There will also be opportunities to undertake experimental activities at the Diamond Light Source (the UK’s national synchrotron facility).

Funding for this position is open to UK applications, and the 4-year studentship will commence in October 2023 (earlier start dates may be available upon request). A high 2.1 or 1st class degree in a relevant physical sciences discipline is required.

Informal enquiries may be sent to Dr Alex Saywell (alex.saywell@nottingham.ac.uk). Formal applications should be submitted to the University of Nottingham. Previous hands-on experience in, and/or knowledge of, scanning probe microscopy and surface science techniques is advantageous but not necessary.

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