Electronic, Magnetic, Optical and Thermal Properties of new Inorganic Materials


This opportunity will remain open until the position has been filled and so early applications are encouraged.

The physical properties of materials create new challenges for scientific understanding and form the basis for next-generation technologies. This PhD project is an exciting opportunity to study the electronic, magnetic, optical and thermal properties of new inorganic solids. The experimental project will focus on the measurement of these physical properties together with crystal growth, materials synthesis and advanced structural analysis (crystallography). For example, the measurement of materials with new crystal and electronic structures that lead to outstanding properties, such as the lowest thermal conductivity ever reported for an inorganic material [Gibson 2021]. The student will explore opportunities to create and understand similar performance across properties that underpin next-generation technologies such as information storage (new electronic and magnetic structures) and low-energy buildings (optical properties of correlated electronic materials).

You will work closely with a strong team of computational and experimental material chemists, participating in the selection of synthetic targets in a process that uses computational and machine learning methods together with chemical understanding. You will gain understanding of and be able to contribute to the development of how artificial intelligence methods developed in the team accelerate materials discovery [Vasylenko 2021, Collins 2021]. This project aligns with the new EPSRC Programme Grant “Digital Navigation of Chemical Space for Function” that combines physical and computer science to accelerate materials discovery and is based in the recently-opened Materials Innovation Factory (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/materials-innovation-factory/) at the University of Liverpool. You will obtain knowledge and experience in materials synthesis and crystallographic techniques, as well as develop skills in teamwork and scientific communication, working closely with computational and experimental researchers within the team. There are extensive opportunities to use synchrotron X-ray and neutron scattering facilities.

Applications are welcomed from students with a 2:1 or higher master’s degree or equivalent in Physics, Chemistry, or Materials Science, particularly those with skills directly relevant to the project outlined above, reflecting its primary focus on physical measurement.

For any enquiries please contact Dr Luke Daniels (

To apply, please visit https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/how-to-apply/ and click on the 'Ready to apply? Apply now' button. Please ensure you quote the following reference on your application: Electronic, Magnetic, Optical and Thermal Properties of new Inorganic Materials (Reference CCPR0031)

Further Information:

The inorganic materials chemistry group, led by Professor Rosseinsky at the University of Liverpool (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/chemistry/research/rosseinsky-group/about/), focusses on the discovery of new inorganic and hybrid organic-inorganic solid state compounds. The research involves developing new capability for materials discovery, discovering and exploring the chemistry of new classes of material, and developing materials for particular applications.

We are developing a new approach to materials discovery integrating computational chemistry and increasingly computer science (e.g., machine learning methods) into the experimental synthesis programme which has led to the synthesis of novel materials with a variety of functional properties. These successes arise from a close working relationship between computational and experimental researchers within the group, which is part of the Leverhulme Centre for Functional Materials Design (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/leverhulme-research-centre/).

We have extensive facilities to characterise many material properties, providing opportunities to learn a breadth of measurement and data analysis skills. We have substantial materials synthesis and characterisation capability including state-of-the-art laboratory space, powder (6 instruments (Mo, Cu, Co radiation) including two rotating anode instruments with variable temperature and atmosphere and in situ battery measurement capability) and single crystal (Rigaku rotating anode) X-ray diffraction; X-ray instrumentation for thin film analysis, solvothermal reaction vessels, robotic liquid and solid handlers and synthesis robots both, over fifty furnaces (muffle and tube), six ball mills including inert atmosphere capability, high pressure synthesis (Rockland multianvil), gas sorption/breakthrough measurements (Micromeritics, Quantachrome and Hiden instruments), GC-MS, liquid phase catalytic batch reactors (to 100 bar), gas phase catalytic reactors, TPR/TPO, FE-SEM, FTIR, particle sizing, NMR, (combinatorial) RHEED-monitored Pulsed Laser Deposition chambers for thin film growth (Neocera and PVD Products), multi-mode AFM (Agilent), spark plasma sintering (Thermal Technologies).

We have state-of-the-art equipment for solid state property measurements: SQUID magnetometry (7T, ac option, magnetoelectric coefficient measurement, 4-1000K), PPMS (14T; for thermal and electrical transport, heat capacity, dielectric properties), Dilatometry, Laser Flash Analysis of thermal conductivity, Seebeck, ferroelectric, piezoelectric and strain measurements, variable pO2 dc conductivity and impedance spectroscopy; symmetrical and full-cell SOFC characterisation. We have the ability to make measurements on solid electrolytes over a range of temperatures with sputtering-deposited electrodes all within a glove box. We have the capability to prepare battery cells (coin/Swagelok cells, crimping, disassembling) for electrochemical measurements (Biologic 6-channel potentiostat), all within a solvent glove box dedicated to working with Li and Mg electrode materials in particular.


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

The funding for this position is from an EPSRC DTP studentship. The eligibility details of both are below.
EPSRC eligibility
Applications from candidates meeting the eligibility requirements of the EPSRC are welcome –
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The award will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years. The maintenance grant is £15,609 pa for 2021/22, with the possibility of an increase for 2022/23.



J. Gamon, MS. Dyer, BB. Duff, A. Vasylenko, LM. Daniels, M. Zanella, MW. Gaultois, F. Blanc, JB. Claridge, and MJ. Rosseinsky, (2021) Li4.3AlS3.3Cl0.7: A Sulfide–Chloride Lithium Ion Conductor with Highly Disordered Structure and Increased Conductivity, Chem. Mater. 10.1021/acs.chemmater.1c02751
G. Han, A. Vasylenko, AR. Neale, BB. Duff, R. Chen, MS. Dyer, Y. Dang, LM. Daniels, M. Zanella, CM. Robertson, LJ. Kershaw-Cook, A-L. Hansen, M. Knapp, LJ. Hardwick, F. Blanc, JB. Claridge, and MJ. Rosseinsky (2021), Extended Condensed Ultraphosphate Frameworks with Monovalent Ions Combine Lithium Mobility with High Computed Electrochemical Stability, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 143 (43), 18216–18232.
A. Vasylenko, J. Gamon, BB. Duff, VV. Gusev, LM. Daniels, M. Zanella, JF. Shin, PM. Sharp, A. Morscher, R. Chen, AR. Neale, LJ. Hardwick, JB. Claridge, F. Blanc, MW. Gaultois, MS. Dyer, and MJ. Rosseinsky (2021), Element selection for crystalline inorganic solid discovery guided by unsupervised machine learning of experimentally explored chemistry, Nat. Commun., 12, 5561
QD. Gibson, T. Zhao, LM. Daniels, HC. Walker, R. Daou, S. Hébert, M. Zanella, MS. Dyer, JB. Claridge, B. Slater, MW. Gaultois, F Corà, J. Alaria, MJ. Rosseinsky, (2021) Low thermal conductivity in a modular inorganic material with bonding anisotropy and mismatch, Science, 10.1126/science.abh1619
CM. Collins, LM. Daniels, Q. Gibson, MW. Gaultois, M. Moran, R. Feetham, MJ. Pitcher, MS. Dyer, C. Delacotte, M. Zanella, CA. Murray, G. Glodan, O. Perez, D. Pelloquin, TD. Manning, J. Alaria, GR. Darling, JB. Claridge, MJ. Rosseinsky, (2021) Discovery of a Low Thermal Conductivity Oxide Guided by Probe Structure Prediction and Machine Learning. Angew. Chem.-Int. Ed. 60, 2–11
HC. Sansom, G. Longo, AD. Wright, LRV. Buizza, S. Mahesh, B. Wenger, M. Zanella, M. Abdi-Jalebi, MJ. Pitcher, MS. Dyer, TD. Manning, RH. Friend, LM. Herz, HJ. Snaith, JB. Claridge, MJ. Rosseinsky, (2021) Highly Absorbing Lead-Free Semiconductor Cu2AgBiI6 for Photovoltaic Applications from the Quaternary CuI-AgI-BiI3 Phase Space. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 143 (10). 3983 - 3992.
J. Gamon, AJ. Perez, LAH. Jones, M. Zanella, LM. Daniels, RE. Morris, CC. Tang, TD. Veal, LJ. Hardwick, MS. Dyer, JB. Claridge and MJ. Rosseinsky, (2020) Na2Fe2OS2, a new earth abundant oxysulphide cathode material for Na-ion batteries. J. Mater. Chem. A., 8, 20553-20569.
QD. Gibson, TD. Manning, M. Zanella, T. Zhao, PJ. Murgatroyd, CM. Robertson, LAH. Jones, F. McBride, R. Raval, F. Cora, B. Slater, JB. Claridge, VR. Dhanak, MS. Dyer, J. Alaria, and MJ. Rosseinsky, (2020) Modular design via multiple anion chemistry of the high mobility van der Waals semiconductor Bi4O4SeCl2. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 142 (02). 847 - 856.
C. Delacotte, GFS. Whitehead, MJ. Pitcher, CM. Robertson, PM. Sharp, MS. Dyer, J. Alaria, JB.
Claridge, GR. Darling, DR. Allan, G. Winter and MJ. Rosseinsky, (2018) Structure determination and crystal chemistry of large repeat mixed-layer hexaferrites. IUCrJ., 5 (6), 681-698.
M. Li, H. Niu, J. Druce, H. Tellez, T. Ishihara, JA. Kilner, H. Gasparyan, MJ. Pitcher, W. Xu, JF. Shin, LM. Daniels, LAH. Jones, VR. Dhanak, D. Hu, M. Zanella, JB. Claridge and MJ. Rosseinsky, (2020) A CO2-Tolerant Perovskite Oxide with High Oxide Ion and Electronic Conductivity. Adv. Mater., 32 (4), 1905200
J. Gamon, BB. Duff, MS. Dyer, C. Collins, LM. Daniels, TW. Surta, PM. Sharp, MW. Gaultois, F. Blanc, JB. Claridge, MJ. Rosseinsky, (2019) Computationally Guided Discovery of the Sulfide Li3AlS3 in the Li-Al-S Phase Field: Structure and Lithium Conductivity. Chem. Mater., 31 (23), 9699-9714.
ZN. Taylor, AJ. Perez, JA. Coca-Clemente, F. Braga, NE. Drewett, MJ. Pitcher, WJ. Thomas, MS. Dyer, C. Collins, M. Zanella, T. Johnson, S. Day, C. Tang, VR. Dhanak, JB. Claridge, LJ. Hardwick, MJ. Rosseinsky, (2019) Stabilization of O-O Bonds by d0 Cations in Li4+xNi1-xWO6 (0 < x < 0.25) Rock Salt Oxides as the Origin of Large Voltage Hysteresis. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 141 (18), 7333-7346
HC. Sansom, GFS. Whitehead, MS. Dyer, M. Zanella, TD. Manning, MJ. Pitcher, TJ. Whittles, VR. Dhanak, J. Alaria, JB. Claridge, MJ. Rosseinsky, (2017) AgBiI4 as a Lead-Free Solar Absorber with Potential Application in Photovoltaics, Chem. Mater., 29 (4), 1538-1549
LM. Daniels, SN. Savvin, MJ. Pitcher, MS. Dyer, JB. Claridge, S. Ling, B. Slater, F. Corà, J. Alaria and MJ. Rosseinsky (2017) Phonon-glass electron-crystal behaviour by A site disorder in n-type thermoelectric oxides, Energy Environ. Sci., 10 (9) 1917-1922.
JF. Shin, W. Xu, M. Zanella, K. Dawson, SN. Savvin, JB. Claridge and MJ. Rosseinsky (2017) Self-assembled dynamic perovskite composite cathodes for intermediate temperature solid oxide fuel cells. Nature Energy, 2(3) 16214