Turning sunlight into fuels: discovery of new catalysts for renewable energies

About the project or challenge area

In this project, you will create new organic functional materials to address current challenges in renewable energies, such as the use of electricity or light to power chemical transformations. Two transformations of great interest are the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen, and the conversion of CO2 into useful chemical feedstock and fuels. Both reactions need catalysts to become viable for real-world applications, and the aim of this project is to discover such catalysts. To this end, this project will involve an interdisciplinary mix of organic and polymer synthesis, materials characterisation, electrochemistry, photochemistry and catalysis. Starting from the design and synthesis of new materials, you will then assess their potential for specific catalytic processes based on their physico-chemical characteristics, and then experimentally determine their catalytic activities.

Why choose this opportunity?

This project being very interdisciplinary (synthesis, analysis, catalysis), you will gain numerous useful practical and theoretical skills which will be useful for your future professional endeavours. It will be based at the School of Chemistry, and you will have the opportunity to collaborate with world leaders in materials research and energy applications. You will work in close collaboration with researchers in the groups of Dr Rochat and of Prof. Charl Faul, which will give you the opportunity to share ideas and skills with people possessing a broad diversity of technical backgrounds. You will receive all necessary technical training by area specialists, and develop skills such as presentation, scientific writing, and project or time management which will be very useful for your professional future. Finally, we strive to create a friendly and nurturing research environment where you can be certain to find all necessary support during the course of your project.

About you

You will have skills and knowledge in synthetic chemistry (and vacuum line techniques), characterisation skills, knowledge of catalysis, team work and time management. These skills are desirable but not essential and all necessary training will be provided.

Bench Fees

A bench fee of £4,000 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 Cabot Masters by Research Admission Statement. Please note that this is an advertised project, which means you only have to complete Section A of the Research Statement.

Before applying, we recommend getting in touch with the project's supervisors. If you are interested in this project and would like to learn more about the research you will be undertaking, please use the contact details on this page.


Your supervisor for this project will be Sébastien Rochat, Dean's Fellow and Lecturer in Functional Materials in the Faculty of Engineering. You can contact him at .

Find out more about your prospective research community

The Low Carbon Energy theme is a vibrant community of researchers who integrate expertise across multiple disciplines to develop sustainable energy policy and technologies which are crucial to providing a safe, reliable and low-cost energy supply for a growing global population. We innovate in every part of the energy system, from generation and storage, to regulation and end-user demand Find out more about the Low Carbon Energy theme.

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