PhD Studentship: In Composite Electrodes for Sodium-ion Batteries



Sodium-ion batteries have potential cost and sustainability advantages over lithium-ion batteries, making them attractive in emerging applications such as large-scale energy storage for the electric grid. However, the poor performance of current anode materials necessitates the discovery and engineering of new materials.

This project will investigate anode materials for sodium-ion batteries in the groups of Dr Phoebe Allan (Chemistry) and Professor Emma Kendrick (Metallurgy and Materials) at the University of Birmingham. The long-term electrochemical performance of the best performing anode materials will be evaluated, and state-of-the-art structural characterisation techniques will be used to determine the charge/discharge mechanisms taking place during battery cycling, and how these vary during long-term use.

The project will provide the opportunity to perform experiments such as in situ and ex situ x-ray and neutron diffraction, X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and pair distribution function (PDF) analysis. The information gained from these studies will provide understanding into degradation and failure mechanisms in sodium-ion batteries and will be used directly to design new composite electrodes with optimised electrochemical properties. The project will involve aspects of materials synthesis, electrochemical characterisation and advanced X-ray powder diffraction characterisation and modelling, and will provide extensive training in a range of state-of-the-art research techniques, which are directly applicable to a career in academia or industry.

The student will also receive training in a diverse range of transferable skills, ensuring competitiveness in any employment sector. Candidates should have or expect to receive a first or upper second (2.1) honours degree (or equivalent) in chemistry, physics, materials science or other related discipline. Familiarity with solid-state chemistry, electrochemistry or crystallographic methods would be an advantage.

Applications should be made through the University of Birmingham’s online application system.

Please contact Dr Phoebe Allan in advance of applying, providing a CV and cover letter summarising your research interests and previous experience. Further information can be obtained by emailing Dr Phoebe Allan (