PhD: Synthesis-Structure-Property Relationships in Exfoliated Electrode Materials for Sodium-Ion Batteries


Dr Phoebe Allan ( or Dr Phil Chater (

Sodium-ion batteries are being heavily investigated as a low-cost alternative to lithium-ion batteries with potential applications in grid storage for renewable energy sources. This project will investigate synthetic routes to 2D oxide materials and evaluate their performance as sodium-ion anodes. Structure-property relationships in new materials will be elucidated using in situ and ex situ x-ray diffraction, X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) and pair distribution function (PDF) analysis. The latter will be done using the recently commissioned state-of-the-art beamline I15-1 at Diamond Light Source, which is specialised for the collection of X-ray pair distribution function data. Development of an in situ electrochemical setup for PDF/XAS will be part of the project, and the student will play a major part in the design, manufacture and testing of this sample environment equipment. The information from these studies will aid the design of new electrode materials with optimised electrochemical properties.

The project will involve aspects of materials synthesis, electrochemical characterisation and advanced X-ray powder diffraction characterisation and modelling, and will provide extensive training in a range of state-of-the-art research techniques, which are directly applicable to a career in academia or industry. The student will also receive training in a diverse range of transferable skills, ensuring competitiveness in any employment sector.

Candidates should have or expect to receive a first or upper second (2.1) honours degree (or equivalent) in chemistry, physics, materials science or other related discipline. Familiarity with solid-state chemistry, electrochemistry or crystallographic methods would be an advantage.

This is a joint project between the University of Birmingham (UoB) and Diamond Light Source under the co-supervision of Dr Phoebe Allan and Dr Phil Chater. The student will spend 50% of their studentship located at Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire, and 50% located at the University of Birmingham. This four-year joint UoB-Diamond studentship comes with an enhanced stipend and resources for travel between the two institutions.

Apply here