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Our Postgraduate's Projects

Investigating Heterogeneous Catalysis Deterioration in the Exhaust Systems of Petrol Cars

Lucy Costly-Wood, PhD student

My project uses in situ studies, i.e. doing analysis such as XRD and XAS during a high temperature reactions, of materials used in the exhaust system of petrol cars. The aim is to gain an improved understanding of how the catalysts used for this application deteriorate over time by studying the structures over long duration experiments. This is useful information as catalysts, including those in vehicles, become less efficient as they age. My project is partially industrially funded by Johnson Matthey, a global leader in sustainable technologies who manufacture catalytic converters and battery materials for electric cars.

Cooperative Lanthanide Frustrated Lewis Pair Mediated C-H activation

Tajrian Chowdhury, PhD student,
Farnaby Group

My project looks at synthesising reactive and unusual lanthanide coordination complexes, with possible steric frustrations, an interaction which could be useful for facile low temperature C-H activation. Now, C-H activation is otherwise a very difficult avenue of research in chemistry owing to the inherent inertness of C-H bonds. The activation and subsequent functionalisation of C-H bonds to useful synthetic targets mean that we do not need to rely on finite energy sources such as coal, in the days to come. Therefore, this avenue of research is of high interest for the energy sector. The very Lewis acidic lanthanide cations, which are known to be excellent C-H activation and polymerisation catalysts, are therefore suitable candidates for this purpose. My PhD project is funded by the College of Science and Engineering.

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Single-Molecule Detection of Fluorescent Biomolecular Building Blocks Using Multiphoton Excitation

Henry Sansom, PhD student,
Magennis Group

Single-molecule fluorescent studies are powerful tools for probing the nature of DNA, RNA and other biomolecules. Traditional techniques involving external dyes have limitations as the dye is attached via a long linker resulting in it being some distance from the site of interest. This can be overcome by the use of fluorescent analogues of biomolecules that have the same biological properties as their natural counterparts but are fluorescent. However modifications to these molecules must be small so as to not impact their biological function resulting in absorption maxima in the UV region. Multiphoton excitation is a way around this problem with the benefits of being less photo-damaging, having longer penetration depths and a reduction in photobleaching. My PhD in the Magennis Group aims to investigate the applicability of detecting these analogues at the single molecule level using multiphoton excitation with the aim of developing a catalogue of bright fluorescent biomolecules with the goal of being able to monitor biological processes at greater resolution than currently possible.

Investigating Alternative Catalysts for Semi-Hydrogenation of Alkynes

Katy Barber, PhD student,
Heterogeneous catalysis group

My PhD Project is supervised by Professor David Jackson and is in connection with DSM. DSM is a Dutch multinational company, founded in 1902 as Dutch State Mines. The company has over time changed its operations; first into petrochemicals, then into health and nutrition. In DSM’s nutrition cluster, they produce essential nutrients including vitamins, carotenoids, and other ingredients for health and personal care. Over time the use of vitamins in personal care has increased. My project focuses on one step in the production of these ingredients. We are investigating alternative catalysts for semi hydrogenation of alkynes. My work focuses on catalyst testing and production, with the overall aim being to move towards a more suitable catalyst for a large industry scale.

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