PhD Opportunities in Energy Materials

The School of Chemistry have a number of opportunities available to work with Professor John Irvine within the Energy Materials group at the University of St Andrews.  We anticipate offering fully funded PhD studentships to UK and EU applicants in some or all of the following topics.

Interface Optimisation in Rechargeable Solid State Batteries.  This studentship is funded by EPSRC and is linked to a Faraday institution funded project. SOLBAT led by Oxford. The solid state battery (SSB) is arguably the most important challenge in battery R&D today. As well as increasing energy density, lifetime and transforming safety, SSBs would enable step changes in the safety, driving range and longevity of electric vehicles (EVs).  The St Andrews activity in this consortium relates to ceramic processing and this studentship will focus upon optimising the interfaces between composite electrodes and the electrolyte.  Work will involve processing, microscopy and electrochemical evaluation.

Emergent nanomaterials.  We have identified a very powerful and extensive phenomenon, the constrained production of nanoparticles. The dispersion, stability, versatility and coherence with the substrate impart quite significant properties to the well-ordered array of emergent nanoparticles. Here we seek to better understand this phenomenology relating to correlated diffusion, driving energetics and mechanism of emergence. Exsolved metals can react to form compounds whilst maintaining the integrity of the nanostructural array and this offers much potential for further elaboration of the concept.  We will investigate the important properties arising at constrained emergent particles, driven by dimensional restriction.  Emergent nanomaterials provide very significant surface-particle interactions and promise new dimensions in catalysis and in electrochemical devices such as batteries and fuel cells

Selective Photocatalytic Conversion of Cellulose into Useful Feedstocks. Photocatalysis is typically considered for solar driven processes such as solar fuels production; however, photocatalysis can also be applied to the decomposition of pollutants or to produce useful products from biomass.  Cellulose is the most abundant biological macromolecule on earth and is made up of linear polymers of glucose molecules. Here we seek to explore the photocatalytic decomposition of cellulose to develop our understanding of the underlying processes and hence to develop more efficient and effective photocatalytic processes.

Thermal Batteries. Thermal batteries operate at high temperature and offer exceptional long term stability and very high power for important applications such as ejector seats.  Whist the devices have been available for many years, the underlying electrochemistry is not fully understood and is also highly relevant to emerging concepts in novel battery technologies.  In this study we seek to explore alternative electrode concepts and to perform detailed in situ and in operando studies of potential electrodes.

Applications are invited from outstanding UK and EU students, who hold a first or upper second-class degree or equivalent. Successful candidates will receive an annual stipend in line with RC-UK rates and payment of their tuition fees. Applicants should be available for interview on selected dates.
Contact for further information or initial enquiries to Professor John Irvine at

Applications can be made through the University of St Andrews online application form at

Postdoctoral Research Vacancies

We have two openings for a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow to work on a 4-year EPSRC funded multicentre project on Emergent Nanomaterials.

AR2075SB – This PDRA will lead the synthetic and characterisation efforts.
AR2076SB – This PDRA will lead materials development and electrochemical studies relating to fuel cells and electrolysers.

Both positions will be available from 1st June 2018.

We would expect you to have a PhD in chemistry, materials, physics or engineering and experience relevant to energy materials synthesis, processing and characterization.

Informal enquiries to Professor John Irvine, email:

Further details and an application pack can be found at the University of St Andrews Vacancies page.  Apply Now.

There may be other vacancies within the University. Also check and