PhD Position Design-led synthesis of nanostructured energy storage materials

  • Full Time
  • Anywhere

University of Limerick

Sustainable and application-tailored long-duration energy storage technologies will be critical for the mass
deployment of renewable energy sources. Lithium ion batteries remain the powerhouse of current energy
storage but are not suitable for high energy density needed for, e.g., electric vehicles. Lithium metal batteries
naturally provide superior energy density, far beyond current Li-ion batteries, but practical applications are
hindered mainly by electrical shorting due to dendrite formation and build-up of ‘dead Li’ during cycling. At
the Bernal Institute at UL we are combining modelling and experimental efforts to develop more efficient
nanomaterials for metal anode batteries. These hosted anodes will allow safer, higher energy density
batteries to be produced. The combination of modelling with experimental approaches within the project
will provide a powerful atomic-level understanding of the complex metal stripping/plating processes, paving
the way for rational design of better performing batteries.
Project Objectives
 Synthesise new host materials for high performance metal anodes
 Diagnose failure mechanisms from experimental characterisation and modelling
 Pre-screen material for metallophilicity and enable a ‘guided by modelling’ approach for material design
 Examine Li ion transport using electrical measurements and diffusion models
The project will apply a multidisciplinary focus to a complex material development problem.
The PhD. researcher will develop a well-rounded skillset including:
 Wet chemical approaches for hosted anodes on lightweight support substrates including commercial
carbon papers. Material design will aim to minimise adding excess mass into the final cell.
 Electrochemical testing including galvanostatic charge/discharge testing, with cells examined in half and
full cell geometries. Extensive ex-situ analysis will be used to inform synthesis.
 Characterization of active materials using state of the art equipment including TEM, SEM, XRD and
measurements such as Raman/FTIR. In-situ TEM will be used to probe Li plating directly.
 Density functional theory (DFT) and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations performed on highlyparallelised supercomputing platforms.
Applicant Profile
Applicants should have, or expect to achieve (prior to the project start), at least a 2:1 honours degree (or
equivalent) in Chemistry, Physics, Energy Storage, Materials Science or related subjects. Experience and/or
strong interest in materials synthesis and/or computational chemistry is desirable.
Position Details
The successful candidate will be enrolled in the PhD Programme in the Department of Chemical Sciences,
Department of Physics and the Bernal Institute at the University of Limerick with a start date of the 1
st of
Sept 2022. The award includes tuition fees, €18,500 annual stipend, travel and consumables budget.
Applicants for whom English is a second language will be required to meet English language requirements.
The Project will be co-supervised by Dr Hugh Geaney and Prof Damien Thompson.
Dr. Hugh Geaney is a tenured Lecturer in the Dept. of Chemical Sciences. His research focusses on materials
development for energy storage and details of his research can be found at Google Scholar Profile
Prof. Damien Thompson is a Professor in the Dept. of Physics. He leads the predictive materials modelling
group at Bernal and details of his research can be found at Google Scholar Profile
Application Process
Applicants should email Hugh Geaney ( with a curriculum vitae (CV) and a short cover
letter detailing their motivation for applying for the position. Academic references can also be provided.
Deadline for applications: Applications will be reviewed as they arrive, up until June 30th, 2022.

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