I studied Physics Engineering at Politecnico di Milano (Milano, Italy), where I earned a bachelor’s degree followed by a master’s degree. Both of them consisted mainly of solid state physics classes, with a particular focus on semiconductors (for electronics and photonics application) and magnetic nanostructures. My first experience in research was at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Grenoble, France), where I spent 10 months working as a trainee for my master thesis project.
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Brief project description:
The aim of this PhD project is to identify and develop a methodology to distinguish the morphology of supported metal oxides using SAXS as a primary analytical technique.
Supported metal oxides are essential catalytic components in automotive after-treatment technologies. In response to growing health concerns, and as a result of recent scandals regarding vehicle emissions testing, European governments have greatly accelerated tightening measures through legislation by introducing “Real Driving Emissions” testing. This has led to a pressing need to understand and improve after-treatment catalysts for the market, with the ultimate goal of reducing harmful vehicle emissions and improving quality of life.
Characteristics of the supported metal oxide have a marked effect on catalytic performance; these characteristics, however, prove challenging to identify due to the complex nature of this class of materials.
A PhD project is expected to excel understanding of supported metal oxides by developing a methodology for data acquisition and analysis which will reveal key structural traits on a case by case basis. Once a methodology is established on model systems, a set of operando experiments will be performed to test the methodology under challenging conditions, and gain insight into supported metal oxide structure during synthesis and catalysis. Several high impact synchrotron and lab-based techniques will be used in this project including SAXS, XAS, CO-chemisorption, and TEM/SEM to gain a comprehensive understanding of the catalytic systems.
The SAXS beamline I22 at Diamond Light Source is integral to the proposed project. Key to the PhD is to fine-tune the technique to acquire data on these challenging systems, and to create an analysis protocol which is both meaningful and versatile to cover a range of material structures. This is of interest to Diamond and UCL as the capabilities that we propose to develop have not been reported in literature, thus potentially making both institutes leading experts in the field, both for data acquisition and for data handling.
For Johnson Matthey, methodology developed through the project is likely to be brought into standard protocol for catalyst design, thus improving the research and development process for industrial catalysts, ultimately leading to better vehicular emission control on the road.
Applications to this studentship are now open.
Interested candidates should contact Andrew Beale with a degree transcript and a motivation letter expressing interest in this project. Informal inquiries are encouraged. The applicants should have, or be expecting to achieve, a first or upper second class Honours degree or equivalent in physics, chemistry or related subject ideally with some experience of catalyst preparation and/or X-ray scattering techniques.
Application deadline: 30 June 2018 but the position will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate has been identified.
Due to funding restrictions, this studentship is only open to applicants from the UK and EU, who have been resident in the UK for at least 3 years preceding their start on the programme or have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
Link to University College London website here.
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