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PhD project themes

Each year we receive funding from UK Research Councils, as well as other sources, such as industry sponsors.

We have a range of research projects with external funding. Please check you meet any specific funding eligibility criteria before applying.

We are also happy to accept applications from UK students who wish to apply for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan.

The School welcomes international and EU applicants who are either self-funded or have secured funding from an external sponsor.

All applicants should expect to be interviewed by prospective supervisors.

Research projects

We have an extensive list of research projects, listed below, that our supervisors are currently working on. We welcome self-funded applicants interested in these projects.

You are welcome to contact the academics directly for an informal chat, or further information.

Applications should be made via the Cardiff University application service. Please quote the project title and supervisor on your application.

In answer to the question ‘How do you plan to fund your studies?’, please specify the details and upload any documents providing the evidence (for example: letter of confirmation of scholarship).

Projects available in catalysis and interfacial science.

SupervisorProject title/s

Professor Graham Hutchings

  • Gold nanoparticles as novel active heterogeneous catalysts.
  • Design of selective oxidation and hydrogenation catalysts.
  • Design of novel heterogeneous catalysts.

Professor Philip Davies

  • Mechanism of photocatalysis and water splitting.
  • Surface reaction mechanisms studied with scanning tunnelling microscopy and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.
  • Nanoparticle stabilisation for heterogeneous catalysis studied with atomic force microscopy and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.

Professor Stuart Taylor

  • Development of heterogeneous catalysts for environmental protection.
  • Heterogeneous catalysts for selective oxidation under mild conditions.

Professor Richard Catlow

  • Computational Modelling of Structure and Mechanism of Catalytic Systems
  • Synchrotron Radiation and Neutron Scattering Studies in Catalysis
  • Catalytic Conversion of Carbon Dioxide

Dr Jonathan Bartley

  • New methods for synthesizing metal oxides and mixed metal oxides catalysts.
  • Microwave assisted catalysis.

Dr Jennifer Edwards

  • Reducing PGM content of heterogeneous catalysts whilst maintaining high activity
  • Biomass valorisation through selective hydrogenation
  • Rapid Synthesis of highly dispersed nanoparticles via microwave synthetic approaches
  • Synthesis of visible light activated antimicrobial/viral nanoparticles
  • Visible light assisted water and air remediation of radical formation

Dr Sankar Meenakshisundaram

  • Supported monometallic and bimetallic nanoparticles catalysts for selective oxidation, selective hydrogenation, coupling reactions and cascade reactions.
  • Catalyst development for the valorisation of renewable materials such as CO2, lignocellulosic biomass components (cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin).
  • Towards understanding the structure-activity correlation for catalytic reactions using in situ spectroscopic and kinetic methodologies

Professor Rebecca Melen

  • Radical Approaches to Frustrated Lewis Pairs
  • New p-block Lewis acids for metal-free catalysis
Professor David Willock
  • Periodic DFT calculations for surface catalysis.
  • Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics applied to material properties.
  • Chemical kinetics and mechanism in heterogeneous catalysis.

Dr Alberto Roldan Martinez

  • Circular economy of plastics: catalysts for plastics functionalisation and reuse
  • Innovative heterogeneous catalysts for industially challenging reactions: Biomass valorisation and CO2 utilisation
  • Energy storage: electrolysers and low-temperature ammonia synthesis
  • The last frontier in Computational Chemistry: Unravelling the catalysts' structure-reactivity-durability relationships

Dr Andrew Logsdail

  • Development and application of novel QM, MM and QM/MM methodology
  • Investigation of properties of crystalline materials, and how doping affects these properties
  • Application of materials towards heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis, such as MTH and biofuel upgrading
  • Simulation of the structure, spectra and reactivity for metal nanoparticles
  • Investigation of the interaction and coupling of multi-compenent catalytic systems (i.e. catalyst, support and solvent), and understanding how this affects reactivity.
Dr Thomas Slater
  • Atomic-resolution imaging of catalytic nanoparticles under reaction conditions
  • Development of 3D imaging techniques for nanomaterials using electron microscopy
  • Correlative 3D imaging linking X-ray and electron measurements to understand catalyst structure across length scales.

Projects available in materials and energy.

SupervisorsProject title/s

Professor Kenneth Harris

  • Development and application of new strategies for crystal structure determination from powder X-ray diffraction data.
  • Understanding fundamentals of crystallization processes by in-situ solid-state NMR.
  • Polymorphism in molecular materials.
  • Fundamentals and applications of X-ray Birefringence Imaging – a new experimental technique that represents the X-ray analogue of the polarizing optical microscope.

Dr Stefano Leoni

  • Crystal Structure Prediction.
  • Materials for Energy Storage.

Dr Alison Paul

  • Physicochemical characterisation of macromolecules in solution.
  • Polymer mediated drug-delivery system
Dr Yi-Lin Wu
  • Heavy metal-free organic redox photosensitizer/photocatalyst
  • Supramolecular control of light-induced properties of molecular materials
  • Organic room-temperature phosphors
  • Functional porous materials
  • New reaction development and mechanistic investigation

Projects available in molecular synthesis.

SupervisorProject title/s

Professor Thomas Wirth

  • Development of New Hypervalent Iodine Reagents.
  • Iodine-based Catalysis for Drug Synthesis.
  • Microreactor Technology under segmented-flow conditions.
  • Flow Electrochemistry for the Green Synthesis of Heterocycles.
  • 3D - Printing of New Reactors for Flow Chemistry.

Professor Simon Pope

  • Development of luminescent complexes for bioimaging applications.
  • Development of hybrid materials for luminescent applications.

Dr Angelo Amoroso

  • Development of highly fluorescent lanthanide complexes.
  • Design and synthesis of MRI contrast agents.

Dr Niklaas Buurma

  • Kinetic and mechanistic studies of Pd-catalysed reactions and their translation to the rational use of enabling technologies
  • Kinetics and mechanistic studies of racemisation of drug-like compounds
  • Optoelectronically active nucleic acid binders as sensitisers in biosensors
  • Directed assembly of functional nanostructures
  • Development of analytical techniques for the design of functional nanostructures
  • Synthesis of optoelectroncically active nucleic acid binders
  • Biophysical studies of nucleic acid binding processes
  • Development of software for the analysis of complex equilibrium systems

Professor Ian Fallis

  • Immuno-histochemical imaging and applications in clinical pathology.
  • Synthesis and coordination chemistry of macrocyclic ligands and polydentate Lewis acids.

Professor Rebecca Melen

  • Radical approaches to Frustrated Lewis Pairs
  • New p-block Lewis acids for metal-free catalysis

Dr Paul Newman

  • Fused expanded-ring NHCs in coordination chemistry and homogeneous catalysis.
  • Development of stereogenic-at-metal complexes for asymmetric catalysis
  • Novel ligand frameworks for the construction of multimetallic systems

Dr Benjamin Ward

  • Asymmetric catalysis using environmentally benign calcium complexes.
  • Polymerisation catalysis using Earth-abundant catalysts.
  • Polymers containing CO2: benign polymers from abundant feedstocks.
  • Asymmetric catalysis using aluminium complexes.
Dr Matthew Tredwell
  • Synthetic organic chemistry
  • Organofluorine chemistry
  • Radiochemistry with PET radionuclides
  • Radiotracer design and clinical translation

Projects available in spectroscopy and dynamics.

SupervisorProject title/s

Professor Damien Murphy

  • Visualisation of weakly interacting molecules in solution by Selective Electron Nuclear DOuble Resonance (ENDOR) spectroscopy.
Professor James Platts
  • Metal-protein interactions in Alzheimer's disease.
  • Metal-DNA interactions in cancer therapeutics.
  • Theoretical studies of non-covalent interactions.

Dr Emma Richards

  • EPR spectroscopy of TiO2 photocalalysts.