PhD Studentship: Nanoporous Polymer Membranes for Sensor Technology



Funding amount:

Fully-funded (fees and maintenance) for UK students or provide fees only for EU students from outside the UK, subject to eligibility requirements

Deadline of 30 September 2020 or until the post has been filled

Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD studentship supported by EPSRC and Schlumberger to develop new membranes for sensor technology applications. The project will be supervised by Dr Qilei Song in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London, in collaboration with Schlumberger (Cambridge, UK). The project will provide access to cutting-edge membrane synthesis and manufacturing facilities in the Barrer Centre at Imperial College London.

Group website:

Membrane science and technology have wide industrial applications, including gas separation, energy conversion and storage, water purification, and sensor technology. Membrane gas sensors with rapid detection of CO2 concentration have applications ranging from oceanic measurements to the oil and gas industry. The response time of the gas sensors, with a gas permeable membrane, is inherently limited by the permeance of the targeted analyte through the membrane. This PhD project aims to design and fabricate new gas-permeable membranes using novel nanoporous membrane materials known as polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs). New PIMs with high CO2 permeability and ultralow water permeability will be synthesized and characterized. The polymers will be fabricated into membranes and the structure and properties of membranes will be investigated by a range of characterization techniques and measurements including gas adsorption and permeation, water vapour adsorption and permeation. Biofouling and ageing of membranes will also be evaluated in collaboration with Schlumberger.

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain) the equivalent of a UK first class or upper second class honors degree (and preferably a Masters degree) in chemistry, chemical engineering, materials science, or other relevant field. Some experience of organic and polymer synthesis would be an advantage. The project will involve close collaboration with Schlumberger and the student will spend 3 months industrial placement in Schlumberger (Cambridge). The project will involve close collaborations with several research groups at Imperial College and University of Edinburgh (Prof. Neil McKeown).

EPSRC ICASE studentships are fully-funded (fees and maintenance) for UK students or provide fees only for EU students from outside the UK, subject to eligibility requirements. Further details about eligibility can be found at:

Applications should include a personal statement, CV, detailed academic transcripts (including grades and marks), and contact details of two academic referees. Your personal statement should highlight your relevant experience and interests. To apply for this studentship, please send your application documents to Dr Qilei Song by email

This studentship is available to start from 1 Oct 2020. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the start date can be extended to early 2021. Candidates will be considered until the position is filled. Please note that any offer of funding will be conditional on securing a place as a PhD student. Candidates will need to apply separately for admission through the College’s online application system; this can be done before or after applying for this funding opportunity. Important information about the College’s PhD application process can be found on the following page: