PhD position – Insights on metal nanocluster (de)hydrogenation for on-board hydrogen storage application using electron microscopy and spectroscopy techniques

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Insights on metal nanocluster (de)hydrogenation for on-board hydrogen storage application using electron microscopy and spectroscopy techniques

Supervisors: Dr Thomas Slater and Dr David Duncan from Diamond Light Source, Dr Jesum Alves Fernandes and Dr Xuanli Luo from University of Nottingham

Project Description:

The development of solid-state hydrogen storage materials is crucial for decarbonisation in the transport sector. As one of the most promising hydrogen storage materials, the advantages of magnesium hydride nanoparticles include their high hydrogen storage capacity (7.6 wt.%) and low cost ($3/kg). However, slow kinetics and a high working temperature (ca. 250 ⁰C) limit their commercial application for on-board hydrogen storage. In order to improve its properties (higher kinetics, lower temperature), this project will utilise metal nanoclusters, which are fundamentally different compared to more widely used metal nanoparticles (diameters >2 nm), where the majority of metal atoms remain ‘hidden’ within the lattice and are excluded from participation in useful chemistry. In contrast, the majority of the atoms in MNCs are fully accessible for physicochemical processes, while new functional properties, inaccessible in bulk metals or in nanoparticles, can emerge as a result of confinement in MNCs.

The aim of this project is to understand the interactions of metal nanoclusters and hydrogen (adsorption/ desorption) and therefore to dramatically reduce the (de)hydrogenation temperature on metal hydrides via nano-tuning. The student will synthesize metal nanoclusters on a novel support material (graphitic carbon nitride) via sputtering. Subsequently, characterisation via aberration corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy will reveal the structure of nanoclusters. Characterisation will be performed in vacuum and in hydrogen conditions, with the latter used to inform the machanisms of hydrogen adsorption/desorption. The insights gained from this project will explain the atomic-level processes involved in hydrogen’s interaction with metal nanoclusters and set the design protocol for metal nanoclusters for hydrogen storage.

Applications for this studentship are now open.  Please click here for more information.  

Diamond Light Source Ltd holds an Athena SWAN Bronze Award, demonstrating their commitment to provide equal opportunities and to advance the representation of women in STEM/M subjects: science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

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