Organic Synthesis and Spectroscopy

Course Contacts

Dr Pawel Wagner:

pawel@uow.edu.au

At the heart of all photo-electrochemical conversion and storage of solar energy, there arefundamentally important electron transfer (ET) steps that need to be controlled. Although molecular structural factors controlling homogenous (in solution) ET rates are well recognised, its importance at the molecule-semiconductor interfaces has only recently started to emerge (JACS 2018, 140, 13935).

This project will answer the question: How does the shape (linear, disk or spherical shape) or the size of the exposed orbitals of surface-bound redox active molecules influence electron transfer rates, with a specific aim to enhance electron transfer at a small electrochemical driving force? Two PhD positions with scholarships are available at the University of Wollongong starting immediately.

The PhD1 candidate in organic synthesis, guided by Dr Pawel Wagner, will design, synthesise and characterise a series of donor – acceptor p-conjugated molecules with i) different shape of the donor units ii) gradually increasing size of the donor unit. They will characterise their chemical and physico-chemical properties using UV-Vis, fluorescence, and Mass Spectroscopy, NMR and elemental analysis. The candidate will acquire a detailed understanding of the factors controlling the properties of organic molecules for enhanced electron transfer rates in the area of photo-electrochemical conversion of energy.

The PhD2 candidate in spectroscopy, guided by a multidisciplinary team at the University of Wollongong, Australia, Shinshu University, Japan and University of Otago, New Zealand, will perform transient absorption measurements on the sub-nanosecond to millisecond timescale to investigate the effects of molecular structure and intermolecular interactions on ET rates. They will perform electrochemical and spectro- electrochemical measurements to determine the energy levels and UV-vis absorption bands of the neutral / oxidised donor and acceptor molecules on the semiconductor surface. The candidate will learn to design and operate custom-built time-resolved laser spectrometers, use molecular modelling and obtain detailed understanding of the factors controlling electron transfer rates between redox active molecules.

The essential selection criteria for PhD 1 are as follows:

  1. First or upper second class Honours degree or Master degree (or equivalent) in Synthetic Organic Chemistry or related field. The knowledge of synthesis and modification of aromatic andp-conjugated systems would be an advantage.
  2. Good knowledge and understanding of various spectroscopic methods (UV-Vis, NMR, IR) and their correlation with molecular structure and properties.
  3. Demonstrated track record in interdisciplinary research and the ability to communicate across disciplines.
  4. Excellent communication (English) and interpersonal skills, with the former ideally demonstrated by high quality journal and conference publications.
  5. Ability to work towards strict project deadlines and work independently.
  6. Excellent team player and ability to work in teams.

The essential selection criteria for PhD 2 are as follows:

  1. First or upper second class Honours degree or Master degree (or equivalent) in Electrochemistry, Physical Chemistry or related field, with skills in: time-resolved and steady state spectroscopy, electrochemistry of redox active molecules, molecular modelling or molecular dynamics simulation of electrode surfaces.
  2. Demonstrated track record in interdisciplinary research and the ability to communicate across disciplines.
  3. Excellent communication (English) and interpersonal skills, with the former ideally demonstrated by high quality journal and conference publications.
  4. Ability to work towards strict project deadlines and work independently.
  5. Excellent team player and ability to work in teams.

Enquiries and to Apply

Email your CV, references and a cover letter detailing the specific scholarship you’re applying for and a summary of your qualification, skills, experience and research interests.

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