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PhD Studentship – Combining nanoscale ptychography and multiscale imaging for probing the nature of active sites in multifunctional hierarchical catalysts

School of Chemistry

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Saturday 01 June 2019
Reference:  1104719EB

Joint PhD studentship: University of Southampton and Diamond Light Source, UK (

PhD Supervisor: Professor Robert Raja                        

Co-supervisors: Dr Julia Parker and Dr Paul Quinn (Diamond Light Source)

Note: Applications will be considered in the order that they are received and the position will be considered filled when a suitable candidate has been identified

We are seeking an enthusiastic and motivated postgraduate applicant who will contribute to this multidisciplinary research proposal, aimed at creating an atomic-scale design platform for the predictive fabrication and rational design of advanced nanoparticle catalysts.  The applicant will join a vibrant and well-established research group of Professor Robert Raja at the University of Southampton (, who are interested in the discovery and design of novel catalytic materials that address fundamental challenges in the chemical, environmental and energy landscape.  The project is aimed at designing hierarchically porous catalytic architectures, which will serve as supports for the deposition and growth of multimetallic nanoparticles. We will further investigate modulations in catalytic behaviour, leading to structure-property correlations through differing levels of steric confinement within these catalysts. Innovative nanoscale spectroscopic and imaging studies at Diamond Light Source with Dr Julia Parker and Dr Paul Quinn will significantly complement the cutting-edge predictive design tools available in Professor Raja’s  Group.   It is envisaged that this will facilitate detailed structural and spatial information at the atomic level, for establishing the precise nature of the nanoparticles, their location and support interactions, when confined within hierarchical architectures. Initial ex situ studies will provide the foundation for operando developments, for both the spectroscopy and microscopy investigations, enabling the origin of catalytic behaviour to be probed at the molecular level. Multi-scale experimental design coupled with advanced 3D imaging techniques, will not only demonstrate the scientific basis for this project, but will facilitate a wider technical development program for operando studies in spatial imaging, XANES mapping and ptychography. These fundamental structural studies will form the basis for evaluating a range of catalytic descriptors in emerging sustainable catalytic applications, including photocatalytic CO2 conversion to fuels, to understand synergistic effects in nanoparticle catalysis and associated mechanistic insights.  The candidate will develop proficiency in operando methods for probing heterogeneous catalysts, by working alongside world-leading academics and industrial partners at Diamond.  

The project is funded for 3.5 years and welcomes applicants from the UK and EU who have or expect to obtain at least an upper second-class (2:1) degree in Chemistry or allied subjects/relevant disciplines. Funding will cover fees and an enhanced stipend.

Due to funding restrictions this position is only open to UK/EU applicants who meet the RCUK eligibility criteria

Applications for a PhD in Chemistry should be submitted online at

Click on the Research radio button, select 2019-20 in the academic year field and enter Chemistry in the search text field.Click ‘search for programme’.Select PhD Chemistry (Full Time).

Please place Professor Robert Raja in the field for proposed supervisor/project

General enquiries should be made to Any queries on the application process should be made to

Interviews are likely to be held between 15/06/2019 and 30/06/2019

The University of Southampton and the School of Chemistry both hold Athena SWAN Silver Awards, reflecting their commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, and particularly to gender equality.

The closing date for this job opportunity has now passed, and applications are no longer being accepted for this position

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