New UNSW Scientia Phd Scholarships Open

Posted 4 June 2019

The School of Chemistry has the following UNSW Scientia PhD scholarships available. 

Expressions of Interest are now open. Apply by 12 July 2019.

Unprecedented global energy demand and climate change have spawned broad-based efforts for developing hydrogen as sustainable clean energy carriers. Led by world-leading experts from UNSW and ANU, this project aims to develop efficient stable electrocatalysts based on low cost, Earth abundant materials for efficient solar water splitting for hydrogen production. The project involves the synthesis of robust non-precious-metal based binary (e.g. NiFe) or ternary nanocatalysts to drive water electrolysis at high efficiencies. These catalysts will then be combined with perovskite solar cells developed at ANU to demonstrate a state-of the-art photovoltaic-electrolysis cell for solar hydrogen production at a record efficiency.

This project aims to develop an entirely new method to make a new class of nanomaterials, 3D Catalytic Frameworks that will unlock the full potential of nanoparticles catalysts. Using an innovative synthetic strategy we will directly grow metal nanorods onto nanoparticles to make 3D sponge-like structures. Direct bonding between metals will give high conductivity, a porous structure will give high surface area and well-defined facets make the superstructures will be excellent electrocatalysts. The superstructures will be used as electrocatalysts for the oxygen evolution reaction for renewable energy storage as a replacement for fossil fuels.

Non-spherical polymer particles are widely proposed as superior drug delivery carriers. However, there is little understanding on the differences between round and elongated nanoparticles in a biological setting. In this project, we want to synthesise polymer nanoparticles of different shapes and test the flow of these nanoparticles in a simulated biological setting. Together with other researchers, we will build a flow system that is modified with mammalian cells to create a simple organ on a chip system that will help future researchers to identify the relation ship between polymer nanoparticles structure and their biological properties.

The chemist's traditional view of electronic structure allocates valence electrons to bonds or "lone pairs". This view has led to intuition which has allowed chemistry and its neighbouring disciplines to flourish. However, chemists do not find that theory supports the notion of local bonds or lone pairs. This is not because the theory is wrong, but because the results of calculations have not been looked at the right way. This project will revolutionise the interpretation of rigorous theoretical chemistry calculations, allowing traditional chemical ideas to be placed on a firm theoretical foundation.

Imagine a breathalyser test that can sniff out cancer and other diseases. The ultimate goal would be a personalised and highly accurate warning system for diagnosing disease in the earliest possible stages to maximise the possibility of recovery. However, early cancer diagnosis is hindered by the need for analytical instrumentation that can be used to analyse volatile chemicals with ultrahigh sensitivity, accuracy and reproducibility. In this project, you will develop a high performance portable ion mobility spectrometer for volatile chemical analysis. This project will make early cancer diagnosis by breath analysis using handheld, personalised, consumer electronic devices feasible.