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PhD Scholarships in Water Splitting

An exciting opportunity exists for two gifted candidates interested in undertaking a PhD in the field of physical chemistry at Monash University while working towards a project “Low-cost, robust, high-activity water splitting electrodes” funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). This project brings together complementary expertise of Australian National University and Monash University in the engineering, design and characterisation of electrocatalysts to develop scalable methods for the fabrication of efficient, low-cost and robust electrodes for H2 production from renewable energy sources via electrochemical water splitting. At Monash University, the work will involve two PhD projects, which will be undertaken under the supervision of Dr. Alexandr N. Simonov and Prof. Douglas R. MacFarlane. A unique feature of both PhD projects will be a short-term placement with the Power Development department of AGL Energy Ltd to explore the techno-economic aspects of the integration of a water splitting technology into the existing gas supply networks in a “power-to-gas” mode.

PhD project #1: Electrode fabrication technology

The work will focus on upgrading of the existing methods developed at Monash University and invention of new procedures for the synthesis and modification of water splitting catalysts using solvothermal methods, with a major emphasis on a microwave-assisted approach. The research will also involve development of the procedures to improve the characteristics of water splitting electrodes fabricated by project partners from ANU. A critical aspect of the project will be comprehensive testing of the stability of the electrodes under industrially relevant conditions. Finally, the PhD student will actively assist one of the postdoctoral fellows working on the project in the construction and testing of a water splitting laboratory prototype.

PhD project #2: Characterisation of catalysts

Understanding the mechanisms of operation and degradation of water splitting catalysts will be the major aim of this PhD project. The work will involve extensive characterisation of electrocatalytic materials before, during and after testing using a set of advanced electrochemical and spectroscopic methods. Catalysts exhibiting the highest activity and stability will be studied by operando spectroscopic methods based on X-ray synchrotron radiation. The major outcome of this project will be the establishment of correlations between the electrocatalytic performance and structure/morphology/composition of water splitting catalysts that will serve as a guide for optimisation of the electrodes.

Location

Clayton campus, Monash University

Remuneration

$27,353 AUD per annum full-time rate (tax-free stipend for 3 years).

For international applicants, scholarships also cover the Monash University international student fees (40 300 AUD per annum).

Candidate requirements

  1. Successful applicants will have an excellent academic track record in chemistry or physics, with an Honours or Masters degree with H1 or equivalent
  2. A strong interest in physical chemistry at a university level is critical
  3. For PhD project;
    • #1 – chemical engineering experience is highly desirable         
    • #2 – interest/experience in spectroscopic techniques is highly desirable
  4. Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  5. Ability to work independently as well as in a team
  6. Ability to plan, organise and manage multiple tasks and meet deadlines
  7. Evidence of data analysis and interpretation skills and experience with statistical analysis is desirable
  8. Experience or understanding of qualitative research would be an advantage
  9. Candidates will be required to meet Monash entry requirements which include English-language skills
  10. Scholarship holders must be enrolled full-time and on-campus

Applications and further information

To submit an expression of interest application, please email the following documents to Dr. Alexandr N. Simonov <alexandr.simonov@monash.edu> as PDF attachments:

  • Cover letter (one A4 page maximum)
  • Curriculum Vitae (one A4 page maximum + publication list, if applicable)
  • Copy of academic transcripts (university level qualifications)
  • IELTS test results if applicable (>6.0 score)

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