Clean water from molecular sponges (start date September 2021)

About the project or challenge area

The contamination of water resources is a major global concern as enormous quantities of wastewater containing heavy metal ions (HMI) are discharged. Consequently, it is highly desirable to develop stable new materials that will remove such toxic components quickly, with high efficiency. Conjugate microporous polymers (CMPs) are materials with great potential to address the problem because of their chemical stability, high specific surface area, porous structure, and excellent chemical tuneability (through variation of the starting materials). In this project, we will be synthesizing some CMPs with good dispersibility in water and explore the adsorption capacity and removal efficiency for different HMIs.

Why choose this opportunity?

You will have the opportunity broaden your chemistry skills as you prepare and characterise various CMPs. You will also use (or gain!) basic analytical chemistry skills as you need to determine the levels of HMIs in model waste waters. You will also learn to evaluate your results, and work with other researchers to develop design rules to enhance the functionality of your materials. You will therefore gain skills and experience typical for a modern materials laboratory.

This project will require you to collaborate with other members of the research group with diverse technical backgrounds, thus improving your communication, teamwork and networking skills. You will furthermore be developing a range of additional transferable skills, including presentation, scientific writing, and project and time management. Finally, you will be interacting with students from all over the world learning from their culture and skills, adding to your professional and personal development.

Full training will provided for all aspects of this project. In addition to your supervisory team you will be assigned a PhD mentor for the duration of your project, who will provide support and help you to identify any additional training needs or opportunities.

About you

You will have skills and knowledge in synthetic chemistry (vacuum line), analytical skills, team work and time management. These skills are desirable not essential.

Bench fees

A bench fee of £4000 is required. A small number of School of Chemistry Bench fee bursaries are available to part-cover bench fees.

How to apply

All students can apply using the button below, following the Master's by Research Admissions Statement. Please note that this is an advertised project, which means you only have to complete Section A of the Masters by Research Statement Template (Office document, 68kB).


Your supervisor for this project will be Charl FJ Faul, Professor of Materials Chemistry in the School of Chemistry. You can contact him at +44 (0) 117 954 6321 or email

Find out more about your prospective research community

The Water theme is a vibrant community of researchers who are transforming the evidence base for water-based decision making in a changing and deeply uncertain world. Find out more about the Water research theme.

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