PhD opportunity: Next generation electrochemical EPR techniques to study redox flow reactions

Supervisors: Maxie M Roessler (Imperial College London), John JL Morton (University College London), Anthony R Kucernak (Imperial College London)

Unpaired electrons have an impact on our society on many levels, e.g. in IT/communication (the modern computer) and in fundamentally understanding enzymes underpinning disease or bioinspired technology. We will take advances in the field of quantum technologies and electrochemistry and apply them to electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) to enable novel applications.

Electrochemical EPR is currently limited by the desire to use highly ionically-conductive solutions for electrochemical purposes with a preference for low relative permittivity materials for EPR, leading to a conflict in requirements. We recently demonstrated the first direct potential control of redox centres in molecules of any size through film-electrochemical EPR (FE-EPR). In this project we will use microresonators to generate spins at the point of maximum sensitivity, simultaneously acting as EPR resonator and working electrode (WE), enabling optimal conditions for both electrochemistry and EPR for the first time. Eliminating the ‘conductivity compromise’ and diffusion of the redox-active species to the WE through surface confinement should enable microresonator FE-EPR to investigate the formation, evolution and nature of very low-concentration radicals during (electro)catalysis and charge storage and hence have a far-reaching impact across many disciplines.

We propose to: (1) Demonstrate proof-of-concept of microresonator FE-EPR (using Au-coated micro-resonators, providing a versatile surface for functionalization); (2) Show its first application to charge generation and storage in battery-relevant non-aqueous and aqueous redox centres such as non-aqueous organic redox species for flow batteries; (3) Apply the technique to biomaterials, to understand how the bacterial protection system MsrP/Q, found in major human pathogens, functions.

 

Candidates must apply to the Centre for Doctoral Training in the Advanced Characterisation of Materials in London (ACM CDT) in the first instance (deadline 14th of December, interviews in January): https://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/CKW470/epsrc-and-sfi-centre-for-doctoral-training-in-the-advanced-characterisation-of-materials-cdt-acm-industrial-phd-studentships

Informal enquiries welcome (m.roessler@imperial.ac.uk)

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