Research Associate

Imperial College London


Job description
Job summary

The Department of Chemical Engineering is seeking a Research Associate to focus on the design of sustainable carbon fibres from lignin using either electrospinning and their application as anodes without excess of Na metal in Na metal  based battery systems.

 Na ion batteries will be the next in line to become commercial as recently announced by CATL. Na-ion batteries are currently relying on a hard carbon anode and either a layered oxide, a polyanion or a Prussian blue analogue as cathode. They use liquid electrolytes, most commonly NaPF6 in EC: DMC. However, in this configuration, Na ion batteries are hindered by a low energy density (up to 100 Wh/kg – 120 Wh/kg) which is mostly due to the limited Na storage capacity of hard carbons (200-400 mAh/g). Using metallic Na anodes instead of Na ions intercalated within hard carbons, could provide a much higher energy density, as the metallic Na can deliver theoretically 1166 mAh g−1 . However, the use of Na metal is hindered by the dendrite formation due to repeated stripping and plating of Na upon battery cycling which, on a continuous Na metallic surface leads to uncontrolled deposition, nucleation and growth. These dendrites can lead to dead Na, poor Columbic efficiency and also to penetrating through the separator leading to short cuts and explosions.

Duties and responsibilities

This project aims to prevent the Na dendrite formation in Na ion batteries using metalling Na anodes. This will be achieved by plating and stripping Na on various 3D current collectors. Preference will be given to carbon fibres made from lignin via electrospinning, currently produced in the Titirici Group , that showed promising preliminary results in this field.

 Na will be electrodeposited on these carbon fibres, ideally in a small pouch cell format. Once the best properties of the fibres will be identified for a best performance (which will be selected based on the deposition overpotential, Coulombic efficiency in symmetrical cells, cycle life, etc) these will be paired with an appropriate layered oxide cathode from which Na will be plated.

Essential requirements

We are looking for a motivated research associate with research experience in electrospinning, carbon fibre production, carbon materials characterisation and experience in battery testing especially at pouch cell level. You should be able to work in a large and diverse team collaboratively and communicate well with the industrial partner funding this project. This is an industrially funded project by PETRONAS.

You will ideally have deep theoretical knowledge and practical experience in carbon materials and electrochemistry including batteries, especially Na-based anodes. Good communication skills are required along with the ability to write high quality reports, draft patents and publications and work collaboratively with the industrial partner.

Further information

You can start immediately and ideally no later than by October 2023.  The contract will run for 24 months in the first instance, with the possibility of extension subject to research funding. The post is based in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London (South Kensington & White City Campuses).

*New appointments will have a maximum starting salary of £44,876 based on experience. 

**Candidates who have not yet been officially awarded their PhD will be appointed as Research Assistant within the salary range £38,194 – £41,388 per annum.

Informal enquiries about the post can be made to Professor Magda Titirici (m.titirici @imperial.ac.uk )

 To apply, please select the Apply Now button at the top of the page.  Candidates will need to complete an online application.

Further information about the post is available in the job description.

Should you have any queries about the application process please contact [email protected] .

Closing date: Midnight on Wednesday, 5th July 2023

 For technical issues when applying online, please contact: [email protected]

The College is currently trialling a Work Location Framework until early 2023.  Hybrid working may be considered for this role and the role holder may be expected to work 60% or more of their time onsite, with 40% the minimum time spent onsite.  The opportunity for hybrid working will be discussed at interview.

The College is a proud signatory to the San-Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA),which means that in hiring and promotion decisions, we evaluate applicants on the quality of their work, not the journal impact factor where it is published. For more information, see https://www.imperial.ac.uk/research-and-innovation/about-imperial-research/research-evaluation/

The College believes that the use of animals in research is vital to improve human and animal health and welfare. Animals may only be used in research programmes where their use is shown to be necessary for developing new treatments and making medical advances. Imperial is committed to ensuring that, in cases where this research is deemed essential, all animals in the College’s care are treated with full respect, and that all staff involved with this work show due consideration at every level.

http://www.imperial.ac.uk/research-and-innovation/about-imperial-research/research-integrity/animal-research

Imperial College is committed to equality of opportunity, to eliminating discrimination and to creating an inclusive working environment. We are an Athena SWAN Silver award winner, a Stonewall Diversity Champion, a Disability Confident Employer and work in partnership with GIRES to promote respect for trans people.

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