Reference code: NES024

Closing date: 30 September 2019

Supervisors: Dr Erli Lu and Dr Keith Izod, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Sponsor: School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Start date and duration of the award: January 2020 for 3 years


We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD student to bring alkali metals (Li, Na, K, Rb, Cs) chemistry into new vistas for the first time over 100 years, and develop applications in energy storage and catalysis.

This 3-year studentship will be supervised by Dr Erli Lu, working on synthetic inorganic chemistry of alkali metals on unconventional oxidation states (0, -1), and exploiting applications of the unprecedented compounds in catalysis (N2 activation) and energy storage.

During the PhD period, you will receive intense training and hands-on experience in synthetic inorganic chemistry of air-/moisture-sensitive materials, using Schlenk line/Glovebox techniques. You will characterise the compounds by a full range of analytical methods, including X-ray crystallography, EPR spectroscopy and SQUID magnetometry, as well as investigate their applications in N2 activation and battery material. You will also obtain experience in electrochemistry. The expertise and experience will be invaluable asset for further career development, in both academia and industry.

The studentship also ensures versatile opportunities for learning and personal development, such as participating and representing your work on national and international conferences on annually basis, and attending workshops for learning new techniques. The project is highly interdisciplinary, thus you will have chance work collaboratively with researchers at North East Centre for Energy Materials (NECEM) at Newcastle, Durham and Northumbria, the University of Manchester, and PI’s collaborative institutes in China and US.

Administrative Contacts & How To Apply

Please contact Dr Erli Lu, email: or Dr Keith Izod, Room 1.25, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
email: telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7101.

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please ‘Create a new account’.

All relevant fields should be completed, but fields marked with a red asterisk must to be completed. The following information will help us to process your application. You will need to:

  • insert the programme code 8100F in the programme of study section
  • select ‘PhD Chemistry – Chemistry’ as the programme of study
  • insert the studentship code NES024 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code NES024 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.

You should also send your covering letter and CV to Dr Erli Lu by email to, or Dr Keith Izod by email to

Entry Requirements

You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honour degree or international equivalent, in chemistry, material science or a related subject. The award is available to UK/EU applicants only. If English is not your first language, you must have IELTS 6.5 overall (with a minimum of 5.5 in all sub-skills).

Funding Notes

100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £15,009 (full award).

Funding Information

Application Deadline:

30 September 2019

Please see our website for how to apply:
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