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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

Rigid ligand architectures for CO2 reduction catalysts

New molecular catalysts for the reduction of CO2 will be rationally designed and synthesised allowing structure-property relationships to be developed, and catalytic activity optimised. Single metal atom reaction sites will be key focus with ligand design utilising rigid aromatic backbone architectures, thus providing good control over the metal coordination geometry and the placement of neighbouring functionalities, along with the tuning of electronic and steric parameters. The design will consider options to incorporate the molecular catalysts within porous frameworks though covalent or supramolecular approaches.

Eligibility

The candidate should have a good knowledge of organic chemistry and organometallic/coordination chemistry in the context of catalysis. Organic synthesis with unsaturated/aromatic building blocks will be a major component of the project. Familiarity with handling chemicals in an inert atmosphere, along with routine molecular characterisation techniques such as NMR and MS, is essential. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Otago.

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 Nigel Lucasnigel.lucas@otago.ac.nz with “Rigid ligand architectures for CO2 reduction catalysts” in the subject line.

 


Using spectroscopy and computational chemistry to investigate order in catalytic architectures

Use spectroscopic methods to capture information on catalytic systems - this would include their structure and kinetics and the structure of any excited states pertinent to the system of interest. The scope is broad in that we can measure the spectra of short-lived species (nanoseconds) and characterize these using Raman and computational methods - but we can also observe the changes in phone modes via low frequency Raman - we can so this on a sub second timescale - so we could examine catalytic turnover and degradation. Are techniques may be applied to solid structures or solids submerged in liquids. Obviously we can look at films and materials in solution.

Eligibility

This project is suited to a candidate with a curious mind and hard working - reasonable skills in physical chemistry (spectroscopy) and a willingness to learn. Some familiarity with computational methods would be helpful. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Otago.

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: Professor Keith Gordon, keith.gordon@otago.ac.nz with “Using spectroscopy and computational chemistry to investigate order in catalytic architectures” in the subject line.


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

Strongly-scattering media for random lasing and optical computing

In this project, we aim to investigate the use of disordered strongly-scattering materials that support random lasing, for applications in optical computing schemes. We will focus on designing, fabricating, characterising, and studying nanoscale structures that display rich dynamics in their interaction with light, can be connected via input and output channels to patterns of information (spatial and/or temporal). This will involve passive media including random microsphere arrays, lithographic arrays, and micro-porous materials, also mixed with gain media such as dye molecules, quantum dots, and perovskites.

Our aim will be to identify the fundamental relations between structural complexity and performance, for random lasing in the first instance, and then as optical computing media. This project will involve a combination of experimental (optics/spectroscopy) and theoretical (ray tracing modelling) work.

Eligibility

The ideal candidate is physics graduate with a keen interest in experimental optics/spectroscopy and with some computer programming experience. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at the 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, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Eric Le Rueric.leru@vuw.ac.nz with “Strongly-scattering media for random lasing and optical computing” in the subject line.


Simple Computing with Networks of Human Cells

This PhD project will extend our established methods in 2D cell patterning and multi-electrode arrays to incorporate both biocompatible gels that can better support the extra cellular matrix (ECM) and gel electrodes in 2D environments. Thus, 2D organised gel grid networks of human cells will be realised on silicon chip that can be both stimulated and recorded from electrically using novel gel multi-electrode arrays for electrical cell types, such as neurons. Finally, by stimulating the 2D organised gel grid networks and recording how they learn we will perform rudimentary computing in organic systems on a chip. Supervised by: A/P Charles Unsworth (Neural Engineering, University of Auckland) and Prof. M. Bill Williams (Biophysics & Soft Matter, Massey University).

Eligibility

We seek a high calibre candidate with keen interest to contribute to the field of Neural Engineering. The experience that we seek is ranked but not limited to: Electronics, hydrogels, biomaterials, signal processing, cell culture. It is not expected that candidates have all of the above experience. 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 Charles Unsworthc.unsworth@auckland.ac.nz,  with “Simple Computing with Networks of Human Cells” in the subject line.


Triplet superconductivity in SmN: effects of correlations and disorder

Samarium Nitride (SmN) is a material that is simultaneously ferromagnetic and superconductive, and therefore is an ideal candidate for applications in the field of Superconducting Spintronics. In conventional superconductors, electrons form Cooper pairs which are made of opposite spins and are in a spin-singlet state. Any alignment of the electron spins is detrimental to conventional superconductivity. In SmN, due to the coexistence of ferromagnetism and superconductivity, the Copper pairs must be made of electrons with aligned spins, and are in the fully spin-polarised spin triplet state.

The aim of this project is to construct a minimal model to describe fully-spin polarised triplet superconductivity in SmN. The model will also describe the mechanism providing the effective attractive interaction in the material. Due to the presence of a flat band near the Fermi level, it will be crucial to include the electron-electron interaction as these types of systems have a propensity to exhibit strongly correlated heavy-fermion physics. Finally, triplet superconductivity is usually extremely fragile to the presence of disorder. Therefore we will include disorder to the model in order to understand the mechanism which allows triplet pairing to survive in a disordered semiconductor, such as SmN.

Eligibility

The ideal candidate has a Master or Honours degree in Physics with a solid understanding of advanced quantum physics and condensed-matter. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at the 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, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Michele Governalemichele.governale@vuw.ac.nz,  with “Triplet superconductivity in SmN: effects of correlations and disorder” in the subject line.


Theoretical description of topological nanostructures

The project will develop and apply continuum-model descriptions of topological materials subject to confinement. In particular, electronic and optical properties of nanoparticles and nanowires made of higher-order topological materials will be elucidated. Device applications of topological nanomaterials will be explored theoretically to guide experimental investigations.

Eligibility

The ideal PhD candidate will have a solid grounding in theoretical-physics methods at the Master's level. Prior research experience using many-body theories in condensed-matter or ultra-cold atom physics will be a plus. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at the 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, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to: Professor Uli Zuelickeuli.zuelicke@vuw.ac.nz,  with “Theoretical description of topological nanostructures” in the subject line.


Neuromorphic Computing: A Computer Chip That Thinks Like The Brain

PhD Scholarships are available to work on brain-like (or “neuromorphic”) computing using electronic devices that are self-assembled from nanoparticles (or “clusters”). We have recently shown that these complex networks of memristor-like elements have both brain-like structures and strongly correlated brain-like patterns of electrical signals. The main research goals of the project are to exploit these signals in order to implement on-chip computational processes such as pattern recognition and time series prediction. Projects are available that focus on each of

  • Nanoscale physics in the devices
  • Network properties / percolation theory
  • Brain-like computation
  • Computer simulations of the devices

This work builds on fifteen years of experience in building cluster-based electronic devices and is part of a project that has recently been funded by both New Zealand’s Marsden Fund and the MacDiarmid Institute.

For further information see here.

Recent Papers:

  1. Acharya et al, 'Stochastic spiking behaviour in neuromorphic devices enables true random number generation', ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 13, 52861 (2021).
  2. Pike et al, 'Atomic scale dynamics drive brain-like avalanches in percolating nanostructured networks', Nano Letters 20, 3935 (2020).
  3. Shirai et al, 'Long-range temporal correlations in scale-free neuromorphic networks', Network Neuroscience 4, 432 (2020).
  4. Mallinson et al, 'Avalanches and criticality in self-organised nanoscale networks', Science Advances 5, eaaw8438 (2019).

Eligibility

A successful candidate will have enthusiasm, a good honours or masters degree in physics (or related subject such as electrical engineering or computer science), and a desire to work in a multi-institutional, 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

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: Professor Simon Brown, simon.brown@canterbury.ac.nz,  with “Neuromorphic Computing: A Computer Chip That Thinks Like The Brain” in the subject line. Applications received before the 30 April 2022 will be given preference.

Covid-19: New Zealand has recently announced that border restrictions will end in coming months, and so applications are encouraged from international students. Students who have NZ or Australian citizenship or residency should make this clear in their applications.

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

Reconfigurable Pickering Emulsions

Pickering emulsions are metastable dispersions of immiscible liquids stabilized by solid particles. Compared to emulsions stabilised by surfactants, Pickering emulsions offer remarkable stability against coalescence and Ostwald ripening. However, it is desirable to be able to reconfigure emulsion morphology on demand for many applications. This project will build on recent progress we made in fusing particle-coated droplets of different, immiscible oils together into multiphase drops (Droplet Fusion in Oil-in-Water Pickering Emulsions).

Our aim is to investigate how to manipulate the configurations of these complex emulsions and how to control encapsulation of ingredients within fused emulsions. This is an experimental project and the student will gain skills in using a variety of techniques, including light scattering, confocal fluorescence microscopy and rheology, to probe the structure and function of soft materials. The student will be based on the Palmerston North campus of Massey University.

Eligibility

A student who has completed a BSc honours (or MSc) degree majoring in chemistry, or a chemical engineering degree. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Massey University.

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 Catherine WhitbyC.P.Whitby@massey.ac.nz, with “Reconfigurable Pickering Emulsions” in the subject line.


Reversible Assembly of Solid Patchy Particles

This project will be a challenging and exciting exploration of the technological possibilities for colloidal self-assembly. Method(s) will be developed for reversible assembly of micrometer-scale solid colloidal particles into multiscale structures such as 3D porous matrices. The colloids will be so-called patchy particles, which can be designed so that they 'dock' in prescribed configurations. Reversibility can be achieved, for example, using solid-state magnetism to produce supracolloidal clusters that disassemble in response to stimulus. The methods developed will be scalable and enable specific functions (e.g. catalysis, or capture and storage) so that technologies which enhance material sustainability can emerge.

Eligibility

The ideal candidate will have a strong Honours or Masters degree in a physical sciences discipline, and experimental experience e.g. with microfluidics or fabrication of patchy or Janus colloids. 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 “Reversible Assembly of Solid Patchy Particles” in the subject line.


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.


Stimuli-responsive colloids for sustainable chemistry

Inspired by biological cell-signalling, the project will aim to develop stimuli-responsive colloidal emulsions to perform multiple, incompatible, chemical reactions in one pot, controlled by applied stimuli. We will design and synthesise the components of these systems, study their physical properties and responsiveness to the environmental/reaction conditions. The colloids will be design to interact and reconfigure allowing control over sequence of reactions. The focus will be on utilising such systems to perform important chemical reactions in a sustainable and efficient way.

Eligibility

The ideal PhD candidate will have strong background in organic synthesis and/or colloidal chemistry, and excellent understanding of fundamental physical chemistry. The candidate will have a BScHon or MSc degree in organic/physical/materials chemistry with outstanding grades and a keen interest in multidisciplinary research. 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: Professor Jadranka Travas-Sejdic, j.travas-sejdic@auckland.ac.nz, with “Stimuli-responsive colloids for sustainable chemistry” in the subject line.


Assembling 3d protein carrier/cargo scaffolds on surfaces

Self-assembled organised structures on surfaces can be assembled through the use of carefully selected and modified protein building blocks, and the use of techniques to guide their self assembly on a surface. The versatility of these building blocks also allow the organisation of cargo molecules, such as polyoxometalates or other magnetic nanoparticles, with possible fundamental applications, e.g., in spintronics. Building on techniques developed for organised 2D films that are capable of carrying useful cargoes this project will explore extending into three dimensions to provide ordered structures with tunable spacing and high homogeneity, and explore their uses in applications.

Eligibility

The ideal student will have experience in protein expression / purification, and skills in physical characterisation techniques, especially surface related. Experience in making surface films, especially using Langmuir Blodgett techniques, would be desirable. 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: Professor Duncan McGillivrayd.mcgillivray@auckland.ac.nz, with “Assembling 3d protein carrier/cargo scaffolds on surfaces” in the subject line.

Functionalisation of nanostructured amphipathic protein monolayers

Hydrophobins are a family of low molecular weight proteins that are unique to fungi. In vivo, they are secreted by fungi as soluble monomers and upon reaching an interface, aggregate spontaneously to form robust polymeric ‘rodlet’ monolayers that are highly amphipathic. These monolayers act as natural surfactants, reducing the surface tension of the medium and allowing fungi to breach the air/water interface and to produce hyphae.

The formation of this rodlet monolayer with unique amphipathic properties has lead to some investigation into the use of these proteins in nanotechnology. In this project, we will build on previous work controlling the kinetics of rodlet monolayer formation to investigate emergent native properties of these protein monolayers. Hydrophobin proteins will also be functionalized using a variety of strategies (including the incorporation of unnatural amino acids) and functional measurements carried out.

Eligibility

Previous experience in recombinant protein expression. 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: Dr Laura Domiganl.domigan@auckland.ac.nz, with “Functionalisation of nanostructured amphipathic protein monolayers” in the subject line.

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.


Interface phase transitions and degradation of Pb-free ferroelectric ceramics

The aging and fatigue (degradation) of oxide ferroelectric materials in service is not understood at a fundamental defect level. In these materials, the thermodynamic state of interfaces such as grain boundaries has not been explored to the extent that it has in non-polar materials. In part, this is because of the multi-physics coupling, and herein lies the key to the richness of the physics.

In this project, we will build on previous work on interfaces in functional oxides and on bulk ferroelectric phase coexistence to develop new multi-physics models. Thermodynamics of bulk phases, interfaces and point defects will be coupled in order to develop understanding of bulk and interface phase transition behaviour in barium titanate and other Pb-free chemistries. This knowledge will enable identification of the origin of ferroelectric degradation and strategies to mitigate this problem.

Eligibility

An ideal candidate would have previous experience in materials modelling, particularly mesoscale modelling, and oxide ceramics. An excellent background in mathematics is required. The student is likely to have an Honours or Masters degree in a discipline such as materials science and engineering, physics, chemistry or geology. This is part of an international collaboration funded by a Marsden Grant, and excellent communication skills are required. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at University of Canterbury.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

Marsden funded at NZD$30,000 per annum (not taxed) and includes 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 Catherine Bishop, catherine.bishop@canterbury.ac.nz with “Interface phase transitions and degradation of Pb-free ferroelectric ceramics” in the subject line.


Scholarships in Green hydrogen production, storage and integration 

Novel metallurgical production of low-cost H2 storage alloys (1 PhD scholarship)

Hydrogen will play a key role in the future zero-carbon economy, as a fuel for transport and for use in industry. However, hydrogen is a low-density gas and hence challenging to store for use ‘on-demand’. One approach is to use reversible hydrogen-storage materials such as the intermetallic alloy, Ti-Fe. This alloy absorbs hydrogen within its metal lattice at ambient temperatures, and can achieve storage densities approaching cryogenic liquid hydrogen. However, existing routes to producing Ti-Fe rely on a multi-step process that uses high purity precursor metals. As such, the cost of production is prohibitively high.

This project will explore alternative new synthetic routes to produce Ti-Fe, which can reduce production costs by employing abundant, low-cost naturally-occurring oxides as starting materials, such as titanium-bearing slags and mineral sands.  The primary focus will be to pursue high-temperature metallurgical approaches to develop a proof-of-concept laboratory process suitable for scaling to industrial volumes. The student will gain familiarity with a wide range of metallurgical synthesis techniques and characterisation instruments including scanning electron microscopy (with EDS and EBSD mapping), TGA/DSC, XRD, XRF, and more. Hydrogen storage properties of sample materials produced in this work will be studied using the custom ‘Sieverts apparatus’ available at Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon and the University of Otago.

Supervision and support for the project will be provided by staff at Victoria University of Wellington and University of Auckland (New Zealand), and the Institute of Hydrogen Technology, Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon (Germany).  The student will be enrolled at Victoria University of Wellington but will be expected to spend time at both New Zealand and German host institutions over the course of the PhD studies.

Eligibility

The applicant should hold a science degree equivalent to a 1st class 4-year New Zealand BSc(Honours) degree or MSc, in Materials Science/Engineering, Chemistry, Physics or equivalent. Previous laboratory experience in materials synthesis and characterisation will be advantageous. All students will be considered on merit, and Māori and Pacific students are particularly encouraged to apply. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington.

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 CV, academic record, and the names and contact details of two referees to:  Dr Chris Bumbychris.bumby@vuw.ac.nzand Associate Professor Peng Caop.cao@auckland.ac.nz, with “Hydrogen storage alloys” in the subject line.


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.


Liquid metal simulations (DFT)

Liquid metals recently became one of the most promising mediums for the development of new technologies.  Liquid metals can produce both nanostructures and bulk materials that can be used for a number of essential technologies, with applications ranging from printable-flexible electronics to carbon-capture devices. 

Using density functional theory and molecular dynamics modelling, we use simulations to discover the physical and chemical processes underlying a number of fascinating (and useful) phenomena that have been experimentally observed in a certain class of binary liquid metals.  These include Turing patterns, inverse bifurcations and the emergence of unexpected nanostructures.  The project will include the development and use of novel thermodynamic theory, simulation and analysis methods, as well as machine learning for classical potentials. 

An overview of our recent work on the project can be found here.

Eligibility

We are seeking a PhD candidate who is highly motivated to work in a highly-collaborative inter-institutional team, and that has an excellent academic record relevant to the project. The ideal candidate will have an interest in working at the intersection of physics, chemistry, and materials science. Applicants should have a physics or chemistry degree equivalent to the 4-year BSc (Honours) degree in New Zealand, with 1st class Honours, or an MSc or postgraduate Diploma. A basic knowledge of density functional theory, molecular dynamics, coding (scripting or more advanced languages) would be bonus. The candidate will remain at Victoria University of Wellington throughout the project, but will have the opportunity to visit the University of Auckland. Depending on government travel restrictions, there may also be the opportunity to visit the experimental team at UNSW.  Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at the Victoria University of Wellington.

Total value and tenure of scholarship

The scholarship is funded via the Marsden Fund 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: Krista Steenbergen, Krista.Steenbergen@vuw.ac.nz, with “PhD: DFT Liquid Metals” 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