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Join the group!

We're always looking for enthusiastic and engaged people to join our team of researchers. Take a look below for listed opportunities. We're also happy to talk to exceptional candidates about scholarship and fellowship opportunities; get in touch with Josh in the first instance.

In our group, we strive to provide an inclusive research environment, and so welcome applications regardless of gender, race, sexuality, (dis)ability, religion and background. 

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Copyright University of Michigan.
Artist: John Megahan. Thanks to Prof Anne McNeil

Current Positions

PhD Studentships

We aim to recruit 1-2 PhD students each year. Our current opportunities include:

 

Mechanochemical manufacture of defect engineered materials for next generation hydrogen Technology (MechTech)

New hydrogen storage materials (HSM) with enhanced storage capabilities are essential to establish a viable hydrogen energy economy. This project will design and develop next-generation HSMs fit for this purpose using innovative defect engineering strategies, achievable with environmentally benign mechanochemical synthesis routes. Using state-of-the-art synchrotron analytics to monitor mechanochemical reactions in situ, coupled with advanced atomistic simulation, strategies to design HSMs and routes to successfully manufacture them will be identified. Finally, to ensure the new materials are fully sustainable, this project will further develop methodologies to fabricate the HSMs from urban waste streams (including electronic and biomedical waste), thereby establishing mechanochemistry as a cornerstone of modern efforts in circular economy. Through the EU COST action in Mechanochemistry for Sustainable Industry, this project will be supported by complete life-cycle analysis, including a collaboration with the Technion Institute (Israel). The successful student will gain training across energy materials design, advanced material manufacture, materials simulation, and advanced X-ray analytics, making them exceptionally competitive across the global job market.

The University of Birmingham's College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (UoB EPS) and the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung, BAM) are offering co-funded PhD studentships, giving PhD candidates in chemical engineering, chemistry, and materials engineering subjects the opportunity to study alongside world-leading academics. BAM is a world-leading centre of excellence for “Safety in technology and chemistry” with responsibility to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. Uniquely positioned at the interface of science, technology, industry and policymaking, BAM integrates research, assessment and consultation within its five focus areas Analytical Sciences, Materials, Energy, Environment and Infrastructure, providing a crucial contribution to the technical safety of products and processes, development of industry and society. Each PhD student will spend 21 months at UoB and 21 months at BAM (located in Berlin). This will allow students to utilize both UoB´s and BAM's formidable facilities, and to enhance the research through access to the holistic network of senior researchers at both institutions.

Permeation of Hydrogen Isotopes into Fusion Reactor Materials

This project is co-sponsored by UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) / Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) Hydrogen-3 Advanced Technology (H3AT) Research Centre. The fuel for future fusion reactors is the fusing of deuterium and tritium, two hydrogen isotopes. Deuterium can be readily extracted from sea water, but tritium, being radioactive, is very scarce. Hence an important requirement of future fusion reactors is that they are tritium self-sufficient; tritium must be generated in the breeder blankets surrounding the torus at a rate higher than it is burned-up in the fusion reactor.
 

However, tritium in these breeder blankets is able to permeate into the coolant, and other structures. This leads to a large loss of tritium, and potentially serious environmental contamination. Therefore, tritium permeation must be minimised. This project aims to better understand the permeation of hydrogen isotopes into fusion reactor materials, including but not limited to: models of behaviour which best describe how permeation takes place through a/several composite layers, the effect of grain boundaries, microstructures and inclusions, and surface limited permeation regimes.
 

The project will make use of expertise and facilities at the University of Birmingham, such as hydrogen sorption measurements and alloy synthesis and processing. Other external facilities such as atom probe tomography, neutron diffraction and neutron reflectometry will help facilitate a greater understanding of surface and sub-surface hydrogen isotope behaviour at surfaces.

The candidate should have a 1st class Undergraduate or Masters degree (or equivalent) in Materials Science, Chemistry or related discipline. A background in microstructural characterisation and/or mechanical testing would be advantageous.
 

To Apply please provide Josh with: (1) A curriculum vitae (CV), (2) A Cover Letter summarising your research interests and suitability for the position, and (3) The contact details of two Referees.

Catalysts for mild-conditions ammonia synthesis and decomposition

Applications are invited for a PhD project with Dr Josh Makepeace at the School of Chemistry, University of Birmingham. Energy storage technologies are a key part of the transition to a sustainable energy system, enabling the balancing of intermittent renewable electricity supplies and low-carbon transportation. Ammonia, already the chemical feedstock for inorganic fertilisers, has recently gained attention as a potential sustainable fuel and means of storing and transporting hydrogen. Its use in these applications requires the use of catalysts to both synthesise ammonia and release its stored hydrogen. Metal amides and imides are a new class of catalysts for this reaction which show great promise. This project will involve the design, synthesis and catalytic testing of a range of metal amide/imide materials, including the use of in situ analysis approaches to determine the mechanism of catalytic action.
 

The researcher will be trained and develop skills in solid state synthesis, air-sensitive handling techniques, structural analysis by powder diffraction, and catalyst characterisation. This project forms part of a larger research programme which seeks to demonstrate the use of metal-nitrogen-hydrogen materials across a range of energy-related applications. The student should have obtained a strong Masters degree in Chemistry by the start of the project, and not already in possession of a PhD.
 

The School of Chemistry is keen to achieve a gender and diversity balance across the School and welcome applicants from all backgrounds. The School holds an Athena SWAN Bronze Award, which recognises its work in promoting women’s careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine in higher education. 
 

For more details, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Josh.

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