Synthesis and development of sustainable main group catalysts

You will develop novel complexes of sustainable main group metals (Mg, Ca and Al) that through cooperation between the metal and its supporting ligand can mediate industrially and synthetically important catalytic transformations.

Start date

1 October 2019


3 years

Application deadline

Funding source

University of Surrey

Funding information

The studentship will cover University fees and a student stipend consistent with the research council rates for 2019-2020. Funding is provided for the full duration of the PhD.


The efficiency afforded by catalytic reactions means catalysis will play a central role as society seeks to make a transition to a sustainable chemical infrastructure. Homogeneous catalysis is typically based on precious metals (Pd, Pt, Rh, Ir) that possess an accessible n/n+2 redox couple which permits the bond cleavage (oxidative addition) and bond forming (reductive elimination) components of a catalytic cycle. Sustainable, benign, and cheap elements (Mg, Ca or Al) are limited in their catalytic application as they do not possess an accessible n/n+2 redox couple and a different approach to catalysis is required.

You will focus on the development of new catalysts based on main group metals (Mg, Ca and Al) that are capable of directly activating H-X bonds (X = H, NR2 or SiR3) without a change in metal oxidation state and utilising this capability in homogeneous catalysis. Cooperation between a main group metal centre and its supporting ligand for bond activation and catalysis is particularly rare and represents an exciting opportunity to establish new catalytic reactivity for these cheap and sustainable metals.

The successful candidate will receive training in a range of techniques applicable to synthetic chemistry including the manipulation of air and moisture sensitive compounds, multinuclear NMR, mass spectrometry and X-ray diffraction. In addition to developing practical skills the student will also develop excellent reasoning and presentation skills.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must hold a first or 2:1 in Chemistry. The ideal candidate will have a passion for synthetic and catalytic chemistry and possess excellent written and oral communication skills. Experience in the manipulation of air/moisture sensitive chemicals is not essential but highly desirable.

If English is not your first language, you will be required to have an IELTS Academic of 6.5 or above (or equivalent), with no sub-test score below 6.

How to apply

To apply for this studentship, you must first apply to the Chemistry PhD. During your application process, please mention this studentship to be considered, as well as supplying two academic reference letters.

Chemistry PhD

Application deadline

Contact details

Ian Riddlestone
05 AZ 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 683858
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