The Synthesis of Heterobimetallic Complexes for the Catalytic Activation of Carbon-Carbon Bonds

This project will develop novel nickel-group 13 heterobimetallic complexes for the activation and hydrogenation of carbon-carbon bonds of relevance to the degradation of microplastics.

Start date
1 October 2021
3 years
Application deadline
Funding source
The University of Surrey, Project-led Studentship Award.
Funding information

This studentship will cover University fees and a student stipend for the full duration of the studentship (3 years).

  • Full UK tuition fee
  • £15,285 stipend per annum
  • £1,000 Research Training Support Grant per annum


With growing concerns over the environment there is a clear need to develop new, efficient and sustainable methods for managing plastic waste. The catalytic cleavage of carboncarbon (C-C) bonds represents an attractive method for breaking down plastic polymers into smaller molecules that can be dealt with through existing waste streams or even recycled as raw materials for further chemical synthesis (circular economy).  

Heterobimetallic complexes have received increasing attention due to the potential for cooperativity between metal centres to effect new stoichiometric and catalytic reactions. This new project is focused on the preparation of unsupported nickel-group 13 heterobimetallic complexes and investigating their ability to perform bond activation reactions across the nickel-group 13 element bond. Particular emphasis will be placed on the development of complexes capable of cleaving C-C bonds in substrates that serve as models for common microplastics. 

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 Class or Upper Second Class (2:1) Degree 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.

Due to the type of funding this studentship is only for UK applicants. 

IELTS requirements: 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

Applications can be made through the Chemistry PhD programme page at the University of Surrey. Please state the project title and supervisor clearly on all applications. 

Please provide two academic reference letters. 

Application deadline

Contact details

Contact by email is recommended for any enquiries. 

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

Riddlestone Group 


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