We are looking for a PhD student to start 2017/2018

We are looking for PhD candidates for a joint project with the group of Dr Stephen Moggach, also here at the University of Edinburgh. The project will use molecular precursors to elemental silicon together with metal-organic frameworks  to create new nanostructured forms of silicon, and will involve lots of interesting techniques including inert atmosphere synthesis, crystallography (including at high pressures), and NMR spectroscopy.

About the project

This project will demonstrate size- and shape-controlled synthesis of nanostructured elemental silicon by exploiting the decomposition of silane precursors within microporous metal-organic frameworks. The student undertaking this project will receive training in an extremely wide variety of techniques, including inert atmosphere synthesis, X-ray crystallography (including at high pressure), multinuclear NMR, UV-Vis spectroscopy, and mass spectrometry.

What are we looking for?

Applicants should possess a recent chemistry degree (first class or 2(i), or equivalent). The ideal candidate will have a strong interest in inorganic and/or organometallic chemistry, some experience of inorganic synthesis (or a closely related area), and excellent written and oral communication skills. Previous experience in the preparation and manipulation of air- and moisture-sensitive compounds, and/or single-crystal X-ray crystallography is highly desirable, but not a prerequisite.

How can I apply?

If you are interested, you can find full details, including how to get in touch,  in the adverts here and here.

New Paper – Ligand coordination modulates reductive elimination from aluminium(III)

Stephanie’s work on oxidative addition and reductive elimination was recently published. The paper is open-access and available at Dalton Transactions.


Oxidative addition of inert bonds at low-valent main-group centres is becoming a major class of reactivity for these species. The reverse reaction, reductive elimination, is possible in some cases but far rarer. Here, we present a mechanistic study of reductive elimination from Al(III) centres and unravel ligand effects in this process. Experimentally determined activation and thermodynamic parameters for the reductive elimination of Cp*H from Cp*AlH are reported, and this reaction is found to be inhibited by the addition of Lewis bases. We find that C–H oxidative addition at Al(I) centres proceeds by initial protonation at the low-valent centre.

Welcome to Amy and Stephanie

Welcome to Amy Price and Stephanie Urwin, who are the first PhD students to join the group! Amy is a University of Edinburgh graduate who returns to ‘us’ with a Principal’s career development scholarship after completing a very successful final year project. Stephanie is a graduate of the University of Newcastle, and has spent the last year travelling in Asia and Australia.