Hierarchical nanofabrication of smart and functional materials for energy efficient separations

This is a Self-funded PhD studentship (3.5 year). Candidate could consider further information and other funding option or secure funding supports elsewhere.

Enhanced demand for fuels worldwide not only decreased world oil reserves but also increased climate concerns about the use of fossil-based fuel. To address these energy and environmental problems, efforts have been made towards improved utilization of fossil fuel and development of renewable energy production. With the abundant availability and carbon-neutral nature, biomass is recognized as one of the most promising renewable energy resource. A number of transportation fuels can be produced from biomass, helping to alleviate demand for petroleum products and improve the greenhouse gas emissions profile of the transportation sector. Traditional catalysts, such as zeolites, suffer from many undesirable properties, such as small accessible pore size, low hydrothermal stability, and less controllable active sites. Among these, low hydrothermal stability at upgrading temperatures greatly hinders conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to biofuel.

This proposed PhD research will focus on synthesizing a new class of ultra-stable materials with tunable nanostructure and functionalities for efficient separations and/or high-performance catalytic reactions, with special emphasis on enhancing their hydrothermal stability. Innovative synthetic strategies will be developed to create these nanostructured materials with enhanced transport properties and extraordinary hydrothermal stability.

This proposed research helps contribute fundamental knowledge on the structural stability of porous materials in hot aqueous conditions and bring the hierarchical porous materials further close to practical commercial uses. This project will heavily rely on experiments as well as active interdisciplinary collaborations. The candidate will have chance to work closely with UK-based/international industrial partners and also to present latest data in national/international conferences.

Further Information: 

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The University of Edinburgh is committed to equality of opportunity for all its staff and students, and promotes a culture of inclusivity. Please see details here: https://www.ed.ac.uk/equality-diversity

Closing Date: 

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Principal Supervisor: 

Assistant Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.

 Students with background in the selected disciplines are encouraged to apply:

•  Chemical Engineering

•  Materials/Chemical Science

•  Chemistry

•  A related subject with strong materials chemistry content

Previous research experience in nanomaterials synthesis or catalysis is highly desirable.


Applications are welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere

Other funding arrangements, described below

Further information and other funding options.