A fully-funded 4-year Faraday Institution PhD studentship is available in the area of Sodium-ion batteries under the NEXGENNA project, a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional approach intended to accelerate the development of sodium-ion battery technology from fundamental chemistry through scale-up and cell manufacturing (https://faraday.ac.uk/research/beyond-lithium-ion/sodium-ion-batteries/). The PhD student will be supervised by Dr Nuria Tapia-Ruiz in the Department of Chemistry at Lancaster University (October 2020 start).
Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) offer great advantages such as high energy density, low self-discharge and long cycle life. However, their cost and resource restrictions are not suitable for large-scale applications. Na-ion batteries (NIBs) are promising candidates that can fulfil that role given their lower cost and the use of more environmentally benign electrodes, while still having an electrochemical performance close to the LIB’s. Despite having similarities with LIBs, the graphite anode (widely used in commercial LIBs) does not show a meaningful capacity in NIBs (ca. 35 mAh g-1). Therefore, alternative anode materials must be investigated. Currently, the leading anode material with a view toward commercialisation is hard carbon. Hard carbons typically show low capacity, low rate capability and high voltage hysteresis and their performance is directly related to the uniqueness of carbon precursors used in their synthesis, their morphologies and other factors. On the other hand, developing high-capacity alloy-type materials could boost energy density as well as improved safety since NaxM alloys have slightly higher thermodynamic potential than the Li counterpart. These suffer however from drastic volume changes upon cycling which leads to poor electrochemical performance after prolonged cycling.
In this project, the PhD student will develop novel high-performance anode materials consisting of hard carbons/alloys composites which shall feature improved electrochemical performance with respect to the state-of-the-art hard carbon. To characterise these anode materials the PhD student will make use of different in-house world-class facilities available at Lancaster University including cutting-edge battery equipment, operando powder X-ray diffraction, Raman spectroscopy, ex-situ and in-situ solid-state NMR and AFM, among others. Furthermore, relevant materials will be further characterised using the NEXGENNA Advanced Characterisation Platform (ACP) to provide further insights into the fundamental properties of these materials. You will have the opportunity to further your knowledge through regular group meetings and seminars with other group members with experience in these areas. Throughout the project, the PhD student will interact closely with members of the NEXGENNA Consortium.
The Faraday Institution offers an exciting PhD programme. Faraday Institution Cluster PhD researchers receive an enhanced stipend over and above the standard EPSRC offer. The total annual stipend is approximately £20,000 plus an additional £7,000 annually to cover training and travel costs. Recipients will have access to multiple networking opportunities, industry visits, mentorship, internships, as well as quality experiences that will further develop knowledge, skills, and aspirations (https://faraday.ac.uk/education-skills/phd-researchers/).
About Lancaster University
The Department of Chemistry at Lancaster University provides a research environment that strongly supports the individual needs of each student, and promotes a healthy work-life balance. We are committed to the Athena Swan Charter, which recognises and celebrates good employment practise undertaken to address gender equality in higher education and research. Our commitment to these principles is reflected in our recent receipt of an Athena Swan Bronze Award. The Department of Chemistry also operates an informal PhD peer-peer mentor scheme available to all students.
Applicants will hold, or expect to receive, a 1st class or 2:1 UK Masters-level or BSc degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry. The successful candidate will demonstrate a strong interest in energy storage, enthusiasm to work in a laboratory environment, willingness to learn, a collaborative attitude, and will possess excellent written and oral communication skills.
We encourage informal e-mail enquiries before submitting an application to Dr Nuria Tapia-Ruiz (firstname.lastname@example.org). Applications will be considered in the order that they are received, and the position may be filled when a suitable candidate has been identified.
How to apply
In order to apply for this PhD position, you need to:
1. Complete a Faraday Institution expression of interest form: https://faraday.ac.uk/opportunities/2020-phd-studentships/
2. Submit your application via Lancaster University’s online application system: (http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/how-to-apply-for-postgraduate-study/)
This position is fully funded for 48 months by the Faraday Institution. Funding covers home tuition fees and annual maintenance payments of at least the Research Council minimum for eligible UK and EU applicants. EU nationals must have lived in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the programme to be eligible for a full award (fees and stipend).