PhD scholarships

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PhD scholarships

PhD student Omid Taheri working on MOFs with Professor Shane Telfer

PhD student Omid Taheri working on MOFs with Professor Shane Telfer. Omid and Shane had a major research breakthrough in 2018, discovering a MOF that is very efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide.

The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology is extremely proud to be New Zealand’s premier research organisation in materials science and nanotechnology. At times, PhD studentships are available in our research areas and partnership institutions.

Successful candidates will become members of the MacDiarmid Institute, and given exciting collaborative opportunities and a thriving environment within which to work.

Our alumni are working all over New Zealand and the world in many different fields and are having real impact. As a MacDiarmid Institute PhD student you will be encouraged and financially supported to take advantage of the many opportunities we provide to broaden your experience and skills.

Activities available for PhD scholarship students include:

  • 3-6 month industry internships
  • Annual multi-day workshops on specialist topics such as communication, commercialisation and leadership
  • Intensive annual multi-day bootcamps (held in remote and beautiful locations) where experts share their knowledge in an important current research area
  • Outreach events, working with school teachers or children
  • Membership of the MacDiarmid Emerging Scientists Association (MESA), run by students and postdocs, which organises additional activities.

Each scholarship is worth NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees.

Catalytic Architectures - Towards Zero Carbon

Chemical programming of mixed-matrix membranes for CO2 capture

Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are causing a global environmental crisis. Mitigating this crisis will require new effective approaches to reducing CO2 emissions. Mixed-matrix membranes (MMMs) present an attractive option for CO2 capture. MMMs are made by incorporating a porous filler into a polymer matrix, and they combine the merits of both materials. However, these membranes suffer from several drawbacks, including limited precision in the discrimination of CO2 from other gases and undesired void spaces due to incompatibilities between the filler and the matrix.

This PhD project will develop new mixed-matrix membranes by incorporating metal-organic framework (MOF) fillers into polymer matrices. The primary focus will be to systematically programme the properties of the MOF fillers to improve the interfacial compatibility and enhance the CO2 separation performance. In addition to exploring the separation mechanisms at an atomic level, this project will generate new insights to inform the future design of the CO2 capture membranes.

The PhD student will gain familiarity with a wide range of material synthesis techniques and characterisation methods including SEM, TGA/DSC, XRD, physisorption and more. They will also become experts in experimental and computational membrane analysis. The student will be enrolled at the Victoria University of Wellington under the supervision of Dr Ben Yin and Professor Shane Telfer, and is expected to spend time at Massey University in Palmerton North over the course of their PhD studies. The student will also collaborate with our key partner investigators from the wider MacDiarmid Institute and internationally.

Eligibility

The applicant should hold a 4-year BSc(Hons), MSc/MEng or equivalent degree in Chemical Engineering, Materials Science/Engineering, Chemistry or a related discipline. Previous laboratory experience in porous materials synthesis and membrane research will be advantageous. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV and academic record to Dr Ben Yinben.yin@vuw.ac.nz, with “CO2 capture membrane” in the subject line. A shortlist of qualified applicants will then be invited to make a formal application for PhD study at Victoria University of Wellington.

Part of staying on as an Emeritus Investigator has got to be about contributing back. I definitely see myself as having a role within the broader institute in terms of mentoring younger researchers.

Professor Simon Hall Emeritus Investigator

Future Computing - Towards Low Energy Tech

There are currently no available PhD Scholarships available within this Research Programme. Any future opportunities will be posted here. 

 

To anyone thinking of doing a PhD in materials science I couldn't recommend the MacDiarmid Institute enough. Go live, explore and do research with these amazing scientists in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Dr Ankita Gangotra Alumna

Reconfigurable Systems - Towards Zero Waste

There are currently no available PhD Scholarships available within this Research Programme. Any future opportunities will be posted here. 

MacDiarmid is the best place for supporting PhD students and postdocs in getting work opportunities.

Dr Cherie Tollemache Alumna

Mātauranga Māori Research Programme - Sustainable Resource Use

Projects incorporating indigenous knowledge via collaboration and co-design are available. Contact the Programme Leader, Dr Pauline Harrisfrom Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Rakaipaaka and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa, directly if interested. Potential candidates will be hosted at Victoria University under the supervision of the MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigators. 

If we want a materially-sustainable future where everyone around the world can have clean water, personalised medicine and free electricity, we need materials technologies.

PROFESSOR NICOLA GASTON MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator Co-Director of the MacDiarmid Institute The University of Auckland

External PhD scholarship opportunities with MacDiarmid Institute Investigators

Please see this section for externally-funded PhD scholarship opportunities which will be supervised by MacDiarmid Institute Investigators.  While the students will be affiliated with the MacDiarmid Institute and will automatically be part of the MacDiarmid Emerging Scientists Association (MESA), the scholarships are not funded by the MacDiarmid Institute.


Materials Science or Chemical Engineering for the Development of Novel Controlled-Release Fertilisers and Manufacturing Processes

The New Materials and Technologies Development Research Team led by Professor James Johnston in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, is seeking a highly motivated and dedicated PhD candidate in chemistry, materials science or chemical engineering (or similar), to contribute to our research programme on the development, characterisation, applications, and manufacture of new materials and products derived from our proprietary, nanostructured calcium silicate material, produced sustainability from geothermal resources. 

The successful candidate will be an integral part of a dynamic and multi-disciplinary research team working on the chemistry and process engineering, manufacturing methods, performance testing, and refinement of novel controlled-release fertilisers and other materials, that utilise the proprietary nanostructured calcium silicate (CaSil) material together with expertise and knowhow developed by the team.

This PhD project combines particular aspects of chemistry, engineering, and agriculture. It has the potential to contribute to more sustainable agricultural and horticultural farming practices. The overall aim of the research area is to develop, characterise, optimise and demonstrate the effectiveness of new and more efficient fertiliser products where the nutrient availability from the fertiliser matches plant demand more closely, thereby reducing the run-off of excess nutrients to surface waters and preventing pollution.

The PhD research project will involve further developing our understanding of the chemistry, characteristics and performance properties of these nanostructured calcium silicate based composite fertiliser materials, together with scaling the science and technology to pilot plant operation and production. Also on-farm trials of the composite fertilisers produced. The research will be guided by the propensity to upscale the science and engineering to commercial scale and the overall technical and economic feasibility.

The PhD candidate will utilise and build upon the substantial proprietary knowledge already developed by the team on the laboratory scale development and glasshouse demonstration of CaSil-based fertiliser products, together with our experience in scale-up, pilot plant operation and product performance testing. For further details regarding the responsibilities of the role, please see the full advertisement

Eligibility

  • Applicants must have completed a Master’s degree or Bachelor’s degree with Honours in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering, with First or Upper Second Class Honours (or similar), or an equivalent GPA score. 
  • The Chemistry qualification should have an emphasis on materials science, the Chemical Engineering qualification on process engineering, or similar. 
  • Candidates must meet the entry requirements for a PhD degree in Chemistry or Engineering at Victoria University of Wellington. 
  • Applicants must be able to commence their PhD programme by mid 2024. Māori students are strongly encouraged to apply.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum, plus all student fees for three years. Assistance with travel to Wellington may be provided.

How to apply

Enquiries and applications should be provided by email and addressed to Professor James Johnston, School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, jim.johnston@vuw.ac.nz. For full details regarding the scholarship and what the application should include, please see the full scholarship advertisement


Processing and characterisation of Ti-Fe alloys as H2 storage materials from NZ feedstocks (2 PhD scholarships)

Green hydrogen will become a pivotal vector to carry and store renewable energy in a future net-zero carbon New Zealand. Ti-Fe alloys demonstrate high hydrogen uptake at ambient conditions and are an attractive candidate material for stationary bulk hydrogen storage applications. Nevertheless, several key issues require further investigation, such as surface activation, cycle stability, impurity tolerance, and supply volume of the metallic feedstocks.

Two PhD candidates will explore the production and processing of Ti-Fe alloys from New Zealand-sourced feedstocks using metallurgical and mechanochemical methods as part of collaborative research within the German-New Zealand Green Hydrogen alliance. The alloys prepared will be characterised by a range of methods (XRD, SEM/EDS, ICP-MS, XRF, DSC), and their hydrogen storage capacity and kinetics studied using custom ‘Sieverts apparatus’. Furthermore, the presence of common impurities within the Ti-Fe alloys will be systematically studied to better understand how locally-sourced feedstocks are likely to perform as hydrogen storage materials, including the effect of surface impurities on reactivity/diffusion characteristics.

Supervision and support for the project will be provided by staff at the University of Otago and University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and the Institute of Hydrogen Technology, Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, Germany. The students will be enrolled at the University of Otago, but it is expected that the candidates will spend time at both the New Zealand and German host institutions over the course of the PhD studies

Eligibility

The applicant needs a degree equivalent to the 4-year BSc(Honours) degree in New Zealand, with 1st class Honours, or an MSc or Postgraduate Diploma in Chemistry, Materials Science, Engineering, or equivalent. Practical experience with hydrogen materials, metallurgy, mechanochemistry and/or the characterisation techniques listed above will be advantageous. Māori and Pasifika students are particularly encouraged to apply. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Otago.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

The PhD scholarship will include tuition fees and a stipend of $30,000 p.a. (tax-free) for three years.

How to apply

To apply, please send your full CV, including academic record, research experience, and the names and contact details of two referees, to: Associate Professor Nigel Lucas, nigel.lucas@otago.ac.nz, and Associate Professor Alex Yipalex.yip@canterbury.ac.nz, with “Hydrogen storage materials PhD” in the subject line.


Design, Synthesis and Advanced Characterisation of Electrocatalysts for the Oxygen Evolution Reaction in Anion Exchange Membrane Electrolysers

This programme aims to develop above state-of-the-art anode materials for the anion exchange membrane electrolyser (AEMEL) technology using low-cost and abundant materials. Currently, the anode overpotential makes up the majority part of the inefficiencies of an AEMEL system. By developing more efficient anode materials a significant increase in the efficiency of hydrogen production using AEMEL technology is possible. This in turn will help accelerate the formation of a green hydrogen economy and thus support the Governmental climate change goals in Germany and New Zealand.

This programme has 3 PhD projects available. These include:

Project 1: In-situ characterisation of anode materials operating under oxygen evolution conditions.

This project will include:

  • Developing synchrotron based x-ray methods (x-ray absorption spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction) to characterise anodes during oxygen evolution
  • In-situ Raman spectroscopy of anodes during oxygen evolution
  • Voltametric and impedance analysis of electrocatalytic oxygen evolution electrodes

Project 1 is based at University of Canterbury, Christchurch, NZ, under the supervision of Professor Aaron Marshall.

Project 2: Tomographic analysis of gas evolving electrodes.

This project will include:

  • Use of synchrotron x-ray tomography on porous and gas evolving electrodes
  • Use of MRI for characterising porous and gas evolving electrodes
  • Understanding of role of porous structures during gas evolution

Project 2 is based at University of Canterbury, Christchurch, NZ, under the supervision of Professors Daniel Holland and Aaron Marshall.

Project 3: Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy of gas evolving electrodes.

This project will include:

  • Use of Scanning Electrochemical Cell Microscopy of novel electrocatalytic electrodes
  • Mapping electrocatalytic activity at sub-micron scales
  • Apply scanning probe methods to characterise electrocatalytic composites

Project 3 is based at Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, NZ, under the supervision of Dr Kim McKelvey.

Eligibility

Applicants should have a background in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering or Physics. Some experience, skill and interest in electrochemistry or electrochemical engineering would be beneficial but is not essential.  Experience in standard materials characterisation methods (XRD, XPS would also be helpful. Ability to draft reports, and finish things off in a timely fashion, are also important, as is proven ability to work well in a team. A wide range of skills will be developed during the course of this project. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Canterbury or Victoria University of Wellington..

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$30,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Aaron Marshallaaron.marshall@canterbury.ac.nz, with “Electrocatalysis in AEMEL” in the subject line.


Hydrogen generation with sustainable resources – a combined molecular, computational and engineering approach

There are three PhD positions available in Chemistry at the University of Otago, two positions in synthetic inorganic chemistry and one in spectroscopy of inorganic systems.  The supervisors are Professor James Crowley and Professor Keith Gordon

Hydrogen is an important fuel source and commodity chemical used in a wide range of industrial processes. Unfortunately, almost all the hydrogen produced currently is obtained from the steam reforming process which is both energy intensive and generates carbon dioxide as a by-product. There are already several photocatalytic systems, including bimetallic metal complexes that can efficiently generate hydrogen in this way. However, the current technologies use Noble metals which are expensive and rare. We will use earth abundant transition metals such as iron, cobalt and copper by re-designing the photocatalytic systems. This project is a Marsden funded project involving researchers in Jena, Germany (Profs Kupfer, Shilitto and Weigand) and Nottingham, UK (Prof George) The project may involve visits to collaborators in Germany and the UK.

Kindly contact either jcrowley@chemistry.otago.ac.nz or keith.gordon@otago.ac.nz with any questions.

Eligibility

The projects involve the synthesis of new metal complexes and their study using spectroscopy and computational chemistry. Two of the researchers will focus more on synthesis with the third undertaking computational studies and spectroscopic measurements including transient spectroscopy. Some overlap of expertise and interest is welcome. Experience in any of these areas is useful. 

Total value and tenure of scholarship

The scholarship provides a non-taxed stipend of NZD$35,000 per annum plus the PhD tuition fee for three years.

How to apply

As part of your application package, kindly include:

  • CV (including 2-3 referee information)
  • Cover Letter (this may include: a description of why you want to undertake a PhD; how your previous experiences have prepared you for the research project that you are applying for; what your passions are within or outside of academia)

Applications should be sent to jcrowley@chemistry.otago.ac.nz or keith.gordon@otago.ac.nz and will be accepted beginning February 2024 until the positions are filled.


New Industry-Funded PhD Studentship: Connecting Structure and Rheology in Dairy Protein Concentrates 

New and improved concentrated dairy products are constantly being designed for their nutritional value and health benefits. The goal of this project is to use both theory and experiments to develop rheological models for emerging products. The project is affiliated with the MacDiarmid Institute and funded by Fonterra, and represents a rare opportunity to carry out research embedded with the expert team at Fonterra’s Research and Development Center, in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Eligibility

The ideal candidate will have a strong Honours or Masters degree in soft matter physics, materials science, physical chemistry, engineering or a related field. Experience with rheology (and especially rheological models) would be an advantage. In addition, they should have excellent analytical skills to assist with interpretation of experiments, and a strong command of written English. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Auckland.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

NZD$35,000 per annum (not taxed), plus all student fees for three (3) years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Associate Professor Geoff Willmottg.willmott@auckland.ac.nz, with “Connecting Structure and Rheology in Dairy Protein Concentrates ” in the subject line.


High-efficiency Gallium Oxide Power Electronics for New Zealand’s Zero Net Emissions Future

Preventing catastrophic climate change will require replacing everything that burns fossil fuels to drive generators, heat buildings, and transport goods and people with renewable electrical energy. The problem is that current power electronic devices based on silicon are inefficient at converting, switching, and conditioning renewable energy. More efficient and faster wide-bandgap power electronic devices are needed to reduce the costs and energy losses involved in renewable electricity production, distribution, and usage. The exciting ultrawide-bandgap semiconductor gallium oxide (β-Ga2O3) has enormous potential for the next-generation of power electronic devices due to its outstanding power efficiency figures-of-merit that are much higher than silicon and the alternative wide-bandgap materials, silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN), currently under development.

This project aims to develop prototype, proof-of-concept β-Ga2O3 electronic devices, such a power diodes and power transistors, that clearly demonstrate the potential of gallium oxide to deliver transformational gains in device speed and efficiency. This will require an increased understanding of the fundamental properties of this exciting new material, the growth of high-quality β-Ga2O3 device layers, and the fabrication of new improved electronic contacts and interfaces so that the predicted performance gains can be delivered reliably to the outside world. The project will be based in the Nanofabrication Laboratory at the University of Canterbury where you will join a project team of electrical engineers and physicists with a strong track record in exploiting the potential of new oxide semiconductor materials. You will gain valuable skills in advanced materials science and semiconductor device fabrication and testing.

Eligibility

The ideal candidate will be a person of Māori heritage with a Master or Honours degree in either Electrical Engineering, Physics, or a related science-based discipline, and a strong desire to work in a rapidly growing field and in a multi-disciplinary, collaborative environment. 

Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Canterbury.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

The scholarship is funded via Marsden and provides a non-taxed stipend of NZD$35,000 per annum plus the PhD tuition fee for three years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Martin Allen, martin.allen@canterbury.ac.nz, with “High-efficiency Gallium Oxide Power Electronics for New Zealand’s Zero Net Emissions Future” in the subject line.


Thinking outside the square! Exploring new nanomaterials with square geometries

Nanotechnology is a transformational science involving tiny structures whose properties become size and shape dependent as quantum effects influence their behaviour and where their ultrahigh surface-to-volume ratios result in new material properties and enhanced catalytic performance. It has produced amazing new materials, such as quantum dots, atomic clusters, nanowires, nanotubes, fullerenes, and graphene. However, the geometries of these materials have tended to be predominantly circular, cylindrical, or hexagonal in nature, and nanostructures with square geometries are comparatively rare. In this project, we are investigating the growth, fundamental properties, and applications of perfectly square nanotubes of transition metal oxide semiconductors, particularly the oxides of tin, titanium, iridium, molybdenum and niobium. Our aim is to develop a new class of highly-functional nanomaterials with unique square shaped geometries, determine their structure-property relationships, and explore their potential use as new high-efficiency electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction and water denitrification.

We are offering a generous PhD Scholarship for a dedicated person to join our multi-disciplinary team of electrical engineers, physicists, and chemists to pioneer the development of an exciting new class of nanomaterials. Along the way you will have the opportunity to acquire advanced skills in scanning and tunnelling electron microscopy, plasma sputtering, electron beam deposition, mist chemical vapour growth, inductively coupled plasma etching, x-ray diffraction, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and electrochemistry.

Eligibility

The ideal candidate will have (or soon have) a Masters or Honours degree in either Electrical Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, or a closely related science-based discipline, and a strong desire to work in an exciting new field and in a multi-disciplinary, collaborative environment. 

Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Canterbury.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

The scholarship is funded via MBIE and provides a non-taxed stipend of NZD$35,000 per annum plus the PhD tuition fee for three years.

How to apply

To apply, please send a CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Martin Allen, martin.allen@canterbury.ac.nz, with “Thinking outside the square! Exploring new nanomaterials with square geometries” in the subject line.


Further PhD Scholarships with non-MacDiarmid Institute Investigators:

Green Hydrogen Integration (6 PhD scholarships)
NZ National Energy System Modelling – Role of Hydrogen (1 PhD scholarship)

For more information and to apply