Postgraduate research opportunities

Nanocomposites hyper-activity in heterogeneous non-catalytic and catalytic reactions

This research will investigate the effect of supported nanopaticles size on the reactivity of nanocomposite materials in heterogeneous reactions. The fundamental questions are how the reactivity scales with the nanoparticles size and whether the stoichiometry of the reaction is affected.

Number of places



3 March 2021


3 years


Students applying should have (or expect to achieve) a high 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant Engineering/science discipline, and must be highly motivated to undertake multidisciplinary research. 

Students applying should have good understanding of chemistry, materials and reactions, experience in experimental labs and basic knowledge of materials characterisation techniques.

Project Details

Understanding how to moderate and improve the performance of adsorbents and catalysts is critical for both basic and applied research. The advances in nanoscience have generated new opportunities in the field of materials synthesis, including tuning the size of free nanoparticles. Notwithstanding this success, supported nanoparticles exhibit several advantages against free nanoparticles such as ease in recovery of spent materials. The effectiveness of nanocomposites is affected by the properties of both the nanoparticles and the substrate. This study will investigate innovative and facile routes for nanocomposites synthesis and their activity towards heterogeneous non-catalytic and catalytic reactions. The model reactions of interest are (but not limited to) Hg-Ag amalgamation, AgI precipitation and 4-nitrophenol reduction. Candidate substrates are amorphous silica, zeolites and alumina and the nanoparticles of interest are those of noble metals such as Ag, Au and low cost alternatives i.e. Co. The research will look at two related phenomena, namely hyperactivity and hyperstoichiometry. Hyperactivity, is the enhancement of reactivity in terms of increased reaction rate, it has been studied but how the reactivity scales with the supported nanoparticles size is a complex phenomenon open for research. Hyperstoichiometry, is the phenomenon where the observed reacted amounts exceed those predicted by the stoichiometry of the reaction, has been rarely observed and scarcely published. Thus, this project offers excellent opportunities for innovation with many practical applications in water treatment and other industries.

In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.

Information about the host department can be found by visiting:

Funding Details

This PhD project is initially offered on a self-funding basis. However, excellent candidates will be considered for a University scholarship.


Contact us

James Weir Building, 75 Montrose Street, Glasgow, G1 1XJ

How to apply

Apply for this project here – please quote the project title in your application.

During the application you'll be asked for the following information and evidence uploaded to the application:

  • your full contact details
  • transcripts and certificates of all degrees
  • proof of English language proficiency if you are not from a majority English-speaking country as recognised by UKVI
  • two references, one of which must be academic. Please see our guidance on referees
  • funding or scholarship information
  • international students must declare any previous UK study

By filling these details out as fully as possible, you'll avoid any delay to your application being processed by the University.

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