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PhD Studentship - Materials chemistry: synthesis and characterisation of novel high energy silicon nitride-based materials for next generation of batteries


Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Monday 31 August 2020
Reference:  1259820EB

Supervisor:                 Prof Andrew Hector

Project description

A fully funded PhD studentship is available to develop new silicon nitride based materials for battery applications. The development of high energy batteries is currently the key to unlock the widespread use of renewable sources of energy and affordable electric vehicles. For that purpose, silicon has long been researched as a highly promising alternative battery material, with potential to deliver ten times higher energy than the state of the art. Unfortunately, due to complex surface phenomena, silicon is only added in small amounts as an energy enhancer additive in some commercial batteries.

Here we propose to exploit our world-leading expertise in the synthesis of metal nitrides, and of silicon nitride based materials ( to develop novel high energy battery materials. The unusual chemistry of metal nitrides brings many advantages for battery applications, some of which we have demonstrated with other materials (, but the silicon nitride system remains little explored.

You will join a well-established activity in Southampton in developing new inorganic materials for energy storage applications. The project will be based in highly quality lab space in the Synthetic Chemistry building in Southampton, and there is good on-site access to diffraction, spectroscopy and microscopy facilities. There are also likely to be opportunities to use central facilities including the Diamond synchrotron and national NMR and XPS centres. In addition, we are well equipped to carry out battery material testing.

The project will be supervised by Prof Andrew Hector, Dr Nuria Garcia-Araez and Dr Marina Carravetta, a supervisory team that can support synthesis, characterisation, electrochemical testing and investigation of charge storage mechanisms at the highest level. Suitable candidates will have good lab skills and an interest in expanding that skill set – we are not expecting the incoming student to already have experience in all of these areas. Southampton offers an exceptional programme of postgraduate modules in characterisation methods and in electrochemistry, and the synthetic skills are best developed through practice in the lab.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Prof Andrew Hector, Electrochemistry Research Group, Email:

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition fees for EU/UK students plus for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £15,285 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Applications should be made online, please select the academic session 2020-21 “PhD Chemistry (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Andrew Hector under the proposed supervisor.

Applications should include

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact: 

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is central to the ethos in Chemistry. In recognition of our continued commitment to improving equality for women in science we were awarded an Athena SWAN Silver award in 2014 a and a second Silver award in 2017.  Chemistry gives full consideration to applicants that wish to work flexibly including part-time and due consideration will be given to applicants who have taken a career break. The University has a generous maternity policy*, onsite childcare facilities. For further information please visit

*subject to qualifying criteria

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