PhD Studentship: Across multiple timescales and length scales: Using in-situ X-ray scattering to understand hierarchical MOF assembly [STU0453]

Website DiamondLightSou Diamond Light Source

Supervisors: Dr Andrew Smith and Dr Philip Chater from Diamond Light Source Ltd and Dr Hamish Yeung from University of Birmingham

Project description:

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are  an important new class of materials, with applications in energy storage, sensing, sustainability and healthcare. Recently, MOFs with hierarchical structure–on multiple length scales–have been created that give rise to unprecedented control over properties and emergent phenomena, such as photonic colour.

Formation of hierarchical MOFs is poorly understood. This limits the functionality and diversity of new materials, as well as control over their properties. The challenge lies in characterisation over the wide range of length scales (Ångström–microns) that are involved, as well as the multiple timescales (ms–hr) of the processes that contribute to the formation mechanism. Synchrotron X-ray scattering is well-suited to this challenge but rarely performed in practice across the entire length scale of interest. This project will develop the necessary protocols and expertise to perform tandem in-situ experiments across beamlines I22 and I15-1 at Diamond, to probe hierarchical MOF formation across the key timescales (ms–hr) and length scales (Angstrom–micron).

The project will investigate two important MOFs classes––zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs) and the University of Oslo (UiO) family––and lead to new understanding of the formation mechanisms and effects of synthesis conditions on the assembly and quality of hierarchical MOF structures for sensing.

The studentship will involve a mixture of synthetic chemistry, materials characterisation and synchrotron X-ray analysis, in particular X-ray pair distribution function and small-angle scattering. As such, a suitable candidate would have a degree in Chemistry, or similar discipline, and a solid foundation in X-ray diffraction. The student will receive additional training in Python at Diamond, as well as transferable skills such as scientific writing and presentations at the University of Birmingham.

You will need to apply via the University portal. Click the link below and search for the project (e.g., Department: “School of Chemistry” + Supervisor: “Dr H Yeung”). The project will then appear in the results and you can apply from there.

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