Undergraduate Course

Department of Chemistry University of Oxford


The Part II Coordinator is Prof. Keyna O'Reilly (keyna.oreilly@materials.ox.ac.uk, int. tel.73743)

For any general enquiries, please contact
Philippa Moss
Deputy Administrator (Academic)
Department of Materials
Telephone: 73750

Email: philippa.moss@materials.ox.ac.uk

Part II Projects for Chemists 2018/19

The following staff member can be contacted either in his/her office or by phone to discuss the following projects:

Supervisor Name


Tel. No.


Dr Kyriakos Porfyrakis Kyriakos.porfyrakis@materials.ox.ac.uk (2)73724 12/13 Parks Road 30.09
Dr Lapo Bogani lapo.bogani@materials.ox.ac.uk (2)83341 16 Parks Road 195.40.03
Prof. Mauro Pasta mauro.pasta@materials.ox.ac.uk (2)83324 ETB Building, Level 4, Room: 40.22
Prof. C.R.M. Grovenor chris.grovenor@materials.ox.ac.uk (2)73751 ETB 50.12
Prof. S.C. Speller susannah.speller@materials.ox.ac.uk (2)73734 BR 20.05
Prof. Peter Bruce


(6)12760 Materials, Room 271.10.09


Molecular Machines with Fullerene Derivatives: Dr K. Porfyrakis
Project 1

The project involves the synthesis of fullerene derivatives that will have specific functionality. Well known reaction methods will be used to anchor functional groups on the fullerene cage. The fullerene derivatives will be isolated by chromatographic methods and will be characterized by a suite of spectroscopic techniques such as UV-Vis spectroscopy and MALDI spectrommetry, which are available at the Laboratory for Carbon Nanomaterials at the Department of Materials. The functionalized fullerenes will be used as a thread and axle component for potential anion templated rotaxane synthesis with the aim to demonstrate controlled molecular motion. This project will build up on existing collaboration with the group of Prof. P.D. Beer in the Chemistry Department, who has extended expertise in the synthesis of interlocked molecular architectures. Characterization facilities such as 1H-NMR and 13C-NMR spectroscopy, available at the Department of Chemistry, will be used for structural analysis of the functionalized fullerenes.

Project 2
Fullerene-based photoactive Donor-Acceptor systems: Dr K. Porfyrakis
The project involves the synthesis of dyads of photoactive donor-acceptor systems. Donor/chromophore systems (D) such as porphyrins will be linked to fullerene acceptor molecules (A). The bridge unit connecting the D-A dyad is an important element of such a structure. We will explore the possibility of synthesizing dyads with varying length of the bridge molecule to analyze the lifetimes of photoexcited states on these systems. We will study the lifetimes of charge-separated states for simulation of photosynthetic processes, via spectroscopic characterization and time-resolved measurements. Electron transfer and energy transfer processes under light illumination are the main drivers of light-energy conversion into electrochemical potentials. Spectroscopic characterization including mass spectrometry and cyclic voltammetry measurements will take place at the Department of Materials, while time-resolved measurements will take place through existing collaborations with the Departments of Physics and Chemistry.    

Project: Synthesis and characterization of novel magnetic states in Molecular Magnets -  Dr. Lapo Bogani
Molecular magnetism allows for the careful tailoring of magnetism by altering the molecular structure of the constituent units. Several theoretical predictions, including Haldane's conjecture and quantum tunneling of the magnetization, have been confirmed only thanks to molecular materials. The project involves the synthesis and characterization of novel magnetic molecules, with the aim of producing novel exotic states of matter. Novel ligands will be created to coordinate metallic centers so as to create magnetic chain structures or zero-dimensional magnetic units with multi-functional properties. The possible use of organic radicals to coordinate the metals will also be explored. The student will become familiar with a suite of different characterization techniques, including: ac and dc magnetometry at low temperatures and in high magnetic fields, electron paramagnetic spectroscopy, time-resolved absorption spectroscopy. Structural characterization facilities available at the Department of Chemistry, such as NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography, will also be used. Extremely pushed techniques, such as single-molecule electronics and mK cryogenics will also be offered to the interested part-II student.

Project: Coherent spin processes in Molecular Magnets - Dr. Lapo Bogani, Dr. Will Myers, Prof. Chris Timmel
Molecular magnetic units could, in perspective, become useful building blocks for the creation of quantum computing devices. Such systems need to show useful characteristics, such as long spin-coherence times, and the inclusion of logic gates that allow performing operations with sufficiently high fidelities. Moreover, several key points remain poorly understood: what sources of decoherence are dominant?  Can shuttling between different Hilbert spaces be used for quantum operations? Can electron transfers and transient states be used in coherent manipulations?  In this project you will be involved in the synthesis and characterization of novel magnetic molecules that can perform as quantum logic units. You will become familiar with pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance techniques, and its combination with optical excitation by laser pulses. A successful thesis will lay the ground to the use of metallic complexes in quantum logic units controlled via external stimuli such as light, and will pave the way to controlled multi-bit operations.

Synthesis and characterization of ionic liquids based electrolytes for Na-ion batteries - Prof. Mauro Pasta
In this project, the student will work on the synthesis and chacterization (both physicochemical and electrochemical) of N-alkyl-N methyl-pyrrolidinium, imidazolium and piperidinium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide (TFSI) ionic liquids (with alkyl=n-butyl, n-hexil and n-octyl) to be used as electrolytes in sodium metal batteries. Actual project click here.

Possible Part II projects for Chemists in the Centre for Applied Superconductivity - Professor Susie Speller and Professor Chris Grovenor 
The university has been awarded funding from the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership to establish a new Centre for Applied Superconductivity based in the Materials and Physics departments (www.cfas.ox.ac.uk).  In the Materials CfAS laboratory we are investigating how chemical modifications can be used to control the superconducting properties of materials being developed with our industrial partners for practical applications.

Nitriding of TiNb surfaces
The formation of stable nitride compounds on the surface of TiNb alloys has been proposed as a way to create materials that could operate as superconducting switches in applications like medical MRI magnets.    This project will explore reliable chemical processes to form nitrided surfaces on bulk NbTi with optimised superconducting properties. (In collaboration with Siemens Magnet Technology). 

The effect of silver on the melting behavior of Bi-2212 joints
The addition of silver to the Bi-Sr-Ca-Cu-oxide superconducting system is known to reduce the melting temperature.  This project will explore the potential to use this effect to allow the reliable manufacture of fully superconducting joints  between the wires being developed for application in advanced magnet designs.  The student will be trained to a high degree of expertise in analytical scanning electron microscopy.   (In collaboration with Oxford Instruments).

Project: Synthesis and electrochemical characterisation of Li-ion and Na-ion electrode materials - Prof. Peter Bruce
The project will involve the synthesis of novel compounds for lithium or sodium intercalation in Li-/Na-ion batteries, and their subsequent characterisation by XRD, SEM and coin cell cycling. This will be followed by iterative steps to investigate the effect of chemical changes on material performance.

Project: Synthesis and electrochemical characterisation of Li/Na ionic conductors for all-solid-state batteries - Prof. Peter Bruce
Synthesis of novel ionic conductors and their composites with intercalation materials for their use in all-solid-state batteries, assembly of those batteries and electrochemical testing. Further, the evolution of the material during electrochemical testing will be assessed by post-mortem characterization.