PhD in Chemistry – Micro-reactor for combined X-ray and Vibrational spectroscopy at University of Glasgow

Highly motivated candidates are invited to apply for a fully funded 3.5 year PhD position in the School of Chemistry, available to commence on 1st October 2023 to work with Dr Emma Gibson in the Heterogeneous Catalysis Section at the University of Glasgow.

Operando and in situ spectroscopic characterisation of catalysts using infrared and X-rays has allowed the structure-activity relationships of many systems to be assessed. However, traditional ‘single point’ analysis can fail for certain systems due to temperature and reactant/product concentration gradients being present along the catalyst bed. In collaboration with the University of Southampton and Queen’s University Belfast, we have recently demonstrated the changing structure of a catalyst along a fixed bed reactor via the use of combined X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAFS) and Diffuse Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (DRIFTS). If the catalyst under working conditions presents such variation of structure and we only measure a single point along the bed, how is it possible to know if this is a representative position of the operating catalyst? This project will develop a microreactor able to study heterogeneous catalyst reactions by spatially resolved XAFS, XRD and FTIR spectroscopy, i.e. being able to monitor changes in catalyst structure, along the length of the reactor. Over the past decade microfluidics have been used to perform many in situ investigations of heterogeneous catalysts. With collaborators in Stockholm University, we aim to make a device where one side of the reactor is an infrared transparent material such as CaF2 and with quartz on the other side, complimentary X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAFS) or XRD measurements would also be possible.

If you have any questions before applying, please email Dr Emma Gibson (

For more information and to apply visit

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