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PhD Studentship Terahertz Spectroscopy/Imaging for Monitoring Realtime Transport in Catalyst Materials (Fixed Term)


A 4-year, fully funded PhD studentship (EPSRC iCASE award with Johnson Matthey) is available in the Terahertz Applications Group working with Dr Axel Zeitler on Terahertz spectroscopy/imaging for monitoring real time transport in catalyst materials. Due to funding regulations, this studentship is only available to students who meet the eligibility criteria of the UK Research Councils: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/finance/funding

To date we have developed a non-destructive and fast imaging method, based on terahertz (THz) pulsed imaging (TPI) that is able to resolve rapid one dimensional mass transport in catalysis pellets. This project will continue to develop the THz method for studying solvents, especially water, in catalyst materials. The project will explore the effect of chemical composition, pretreatment and microstructure of the catalyst pellet on the mass transport characteristics relevant to catalyst preparation routes. We would then plan to look at drying kinetics, wetting (e.g. impregnation/washcoating) and wicking. Furthermore, we would investigate the use of THz spectroscopy/imaging as a method for determining catalyst porosity, non-destructively and quickly. The method aims to provide greater understanding of catalyst preparation processes, and evidence for the potential of a THz tool for online monitoring of the manufacturing process, e.g. online monitoring of catalyst coating thickness in pan coating.

Terahertz radiation has excellent potential to help with the understanding of fundamental and exciting new challenges at the interface between physics, materials chemistry and the life sciences but it is, as yet, largely unexplored. Light located in this range of the electromagnetic spectrum was very difficult to generate until quite recently. Since the 1990s new developments in semiconductor physics and femtosecond laser technology have made it possible to provide light at terahertz frequencies (a frequency of 1 THz equals a wavelength of 0.3 mm) in a relatively simple way. Terahertz radiation has unique properties in that it easily penetrates through most polymeric materials and is therefore an exciting new tool to study such materials, which are often opaque at visible frequencies.

In addition to the experimental work using terahertz spectroscopy and imaging in our laboratory, there will be opportunities to explore the microstructure of catalyst pellets with the X-ray microtomography equipment available in our group as a complementary measurement technique to help better understand the structure of the samples Related publications: [1] J. Obradovic et al., Polymer. 48, 3494 (2007). [2] S. Yassin et al., J. Pharm. Sci. 104, 1658 (2015).

The terahertz applications group in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology runs a successful internationally leading research program in terahertz technology http://thz.ceb.cam.ac.uk/ .

Applicants should have a First Class (or a high 2:1) degree in a relevant discipline such as chemical engineering, physics, chemistry, or engineering. The successful applicant will be expected to formally apply for admission through the University's Graduate Admissions Office and meet any conditions of admission they set forth.

To apply for this studentship: Please email a detailed curriculum vitae (to include numerical details of grades obtained in relevant examinations) to: recruitment@ceb.cam.ac.uk

Please quote reference NQ11217 - UK/EU Studentship: Terahertz Applications Group on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy. Informal enquires can be directed to Dr Axel Zeitler (jaz22@cam.ac.uk); please do not send applications to Dr Zeitler's email address.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 4 years in the first instance.

Applicants should ensure their application is complete and submitted by 5pm on the closing date.

Please quote reference NQ11217 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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