Hardwick Group

Opportunities

Informal enquiries are welcome. Please address these to Prof. Hardwick (hardwick@liverpool.ac.uk).

 

Available Postdoctoral Fellowships 

No vacancies currently available

 

Available PhD Studentships

In Situ Far-Infrared Spectroscopy of Electrochemical Interfaces within Batteries 

In situ spectroscopies are amongst the most important innovations for modern electrochemistry since they are able to deliver precise molecular level views of electrochemical interfaces and reactions. IR spectroscopies, in particular, have been responsible for elucidating the nature of adsorbed species and intermediates in key electrochemical processes such as H2 evolution, O2 reduction, electro-polymerisation and a host of electrocatalytic reactions such as alcohol oxidation. However, few inroads have been made into recording in situ infrared spectra at frequencies below 800 cm-1. Recently we have established expertise in electrochemical ATR (attenuated total reflection) measurements (called SEIRAS – surface enhanced infrared absorption spectroscopy) and applied this to studying mechanisms of oxygen (O2) reduction reactions (ORR). ORR represents one of the most fundamental and important reactions in electrochemistry, with applications for this reaction being found in fuel cells, chlor-alkali electrolysis (in which the hydrogen-evolving electrodes are replaced by oxygen/air-depolarised electrodes) and metal-air batteries, the latter being key focus of this new PhD project.

The objectives for the PhD project are:

(1) Develop SEIRAS to probe below 800 cm-1.

(2) Record and study vibrational spectra of metal-to -superoxide and -peroxide species at model metal-air batteries.

(3) Record low frequency IR spectra during in situ formation of battery solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) layers.

(4) Extend far-IR SEIRAS to other important electrochemical reactions such as oxide formation, Cl2 evolution (chlor-alkali) and ion adsorption.

Applications are encouraged from highly motivated candidates who have, or expect to have, at least a 2:1 degree or equivalent in Chemistry or related subject. Applications should be made as soon as possible but no later than 30th June 2019. Informal enquiries are also encouraged and should be addressed to Professor Laurence Hardwick or Professor Richard Nichols. More information available here.

  

Microstructure Engineering of Hypercrosslinked Polymers for Rechargeable Batteries Beyond Lithium-ion Batteries

Although Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are considered to be one of the most successful electrochemical power sources and have been widely used in many applications, LIBs are being hampered by the limited natural reserves and high cost of lithium as well as the safety issues. The PhD project will involve the function design and microstructure development of hypercrosslinked polymers (HCPs) as the electrode materials and solid-state electrolytes for rechargeable batteries beyond LIBs. 

A key feature of this collaborative programme is the training of PhD student in the application of these experimental techniques and theoretical models. The PhD student will spend 2 years studying at National Tsing Hua University and 2 years at the University of Liverpool under the bilaterally agreed 2+2 scheme between the two institutions.  More information available here.

 

Available CHEM480 4th Year MCHEM Projects for 2018/2019 Academic Year

Project 1: SHINing Light on Electrochemical Reactions in Metal-Oxygen Batteries

Understanding the properties and mechanistic detail of electrochemical or catalytic reactions at the interface at a molecular level is critical for developing energy systems such as metal-oxygen batteries. Shell-Isolated Nanoparticles for Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SHINERS) is a powerful technique for surface analysis. In principle, any type of electrode substrate can be used since the amplification of the Raman signal comes from the gold core embedded within an ultrathin (ca. 2 nm) silica shell. This allows the detection of intermediates and products on any electrode surface during an electrochemical reaction and highlights a very powerful method at accessing reaction pathways and relating them directly to surface structure.

The MChem project would investigate the shelf life, enhancement life, pinhole free life, temperature and pH stability of SHIN particles and the optimisation of particle distribution on the surface, as well as an electrochemical studies on oxygen reduction reaction on under potential deposition of metal layers on single crystal platinum. The MChem project student will expect to obtain training and skills in working as part of a research group, frontier battery research, Raman microscopy, electrochemistry and data analysis.

For recent literature examples and background see:

Shell Isolated Nanoparticles for Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy Studies in Lithium-Oxygen Cells, Faraday Discuss., 205 (2017) 469 DOI

Utilizing In Situ Electrochemical SHINERS for Oxygen Reduction Reaction Studies in Aprotic Electrolytes, J. Phys. Chem. Lett., 7 (2016) 2119 DOI

For further information, please contact Professor Hardwick and Dr Galloway.

 

Project 2: Ion coordination in Novel Electrolytes for Li Metal Batteries

The coordination environment of the lithium ion (Li+) and the organic solvent is an important factor determining its electrochemical stability, particularly against lithium metal. Raman microscopy and infrared spectroscopy have shown to be very powerful tools in understanding the local coordination structure in complex electrolyte mixtures.

The MChem project would investigate a series of novel Li-ion electrolyte blends using Raman microscopy and infrared spectroscopy in which the ratios of each component are varied. The effect of temperature (-20 to +80 oC ) on the coordination structure of these blends will be also studied. The MChem project student will expect to obtain training and skills in working as part of a research group, frontier battery research, battery electrolyte formulation, Raman microscopy, infrared spectroscopy and data analysis.

For recent literature examples and background see:

Oxygen Reduction Reaction in Highly Concentrated Electrolyte Solutions of Lithium Bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)amide/Dimethyl Sulfoxide J. Phys. Chem. C, 121 (2017) 9162 DOI

Lithium Metal Anodes: Toward an Improved Understanding of Coupled Morphological, Electrochemical, and Mechanical Behavior ACS Energy Lett.2 (2017) 664 DOI

For further information, please contact Professor Hardwick and Dr Neale.

 

Further Information 

Please also see our centralised job web pages for current opportunities.