PhD Position in X-Ray Absorption and Neutron Spectroscopies of Novel Conducting Thermoelectric MOFs

University of Southampton School of Chemistry

United Kingdom

PhD Studentship - X-ray absorption and neutron spectroscopies of novel conducting thermoelectric MOFs


Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Wednesday 31 August 2022
Reference:  1808322EB

Supervisory Team:    Dr Iris Nandhakumar, Dr Darren Bradshaw

Project description

Applications are invited for a prestigious PhD studentship to work on an exciting interdisciplinary project between the Schools of Chemistry and and . The project is funded for 4 years and welcomes applicants from the UK (i.e. those eligible for UK tuition fees) who have or expect to obtain at least an upper second class degree in either Chemistry, Materials Science, Physics or related discipline. 

Thermoelectrics (TEs) are an important class of materials that can directly convert thermal waste heat into useful electrical energy and hence have great potential to contribute to the sustainability agenda and the net-zero carbon economy. The potential for TE materials in sustainable waste-heat-recovery systems is huge as approximately 90 per cent of the world’s power is being generated by heat engines that operate at 30–40 per cent efficiency with the remainder being lost to the environment as heat. Despite these merits, barriers exist to their widespread adoption due to the low efficiency of current materials. Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are an exciting class of crystalline high surface-area microporous solids assembled from metal ions or clusters and polytopic organic ligands which are excellent candidates for new TE materials given their relatively low thermal conductivity and tuneable electrical conductivity. 

In this project you will investigate the effects of molecular doping, composition and topology on multiple length scales in conducting Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) as candidates for thermoelectric applications. Their modular nature allows framework composition, functionality and pore size to be optimised which is paramount for applications in energy and sustainability. We have recently succeeded in preparing conducting MOFs with unprecedented thermoelectric performance. Furthermore, a switch in conductivity from n-to p-type was observed. The exact mechanism of doping or identification of which species is exactly responsible for the observed doping is unknown. To unravel this mechanism we propose to use a combination of characterization techniques (XAS/XES and inelastic neutron scattering (INS)) that will allow us carry out detailed operando gas adsorption studies whilst simultaneously measuring the thermoelectric properties.

Diamond is one of the most advanced scientific facilities in the world, and its pioneering capabilities are helping to keep the UK at the forefront of scientific research. ISIS Neutron and Muon Source is a world-leading centre for research in the physical and life sciences at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford in the United Kingdom. Our suite of neutron and muon instruments gives unique insights into the properties of materials on the atomic scale. Our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: Applications will be considered in the order that they are received, and the position will be considered filled when a suitable candidate has been identified

Funding: Full tuition fees for UK rate Students plus an enhanced stipend of £17,920 p.a for up to 4 years. 

How To Apply

Apply online:   “PhD Chemistry (Full time)”. Please enter Iris Nandhakumar as proposed supervisor.

Applications should include: 

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts 

In your application, please refer to


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