Post-doc on solid-state NMR of photoresponsive materials in Lancaster (UK)

The aim of this 3-year project is to use and develop solid-state NMR methods for the study of energy storage mechanisms in solar thermal fuels (STFs).

STFs are materials that store solar energy through light-induced changes in their molecular structure, and release it on demand at a later time in the form of heat. The energy capacity of STFs is comparable to lithium-ion batteries, and they are fully cyclable as they can be “recharged” after use through re-exposure to sunlight. STFs therefore offer huge potential as a new technology for providing useful and renewable heat energy, particularly for applications where periodic heating is required such as night-time heating in buildings or de-icing. However, while several types of liquid STFs have been demonstrated, solid-state photoswitching is relatively rare and therefore the design and optimisation of STF materials as devices or coatings is a major challenge.

The project will involve preparing solid-state STFs based on microporous organic and metal-organic frameworks containing molecular photoswitches. The focus will be on understanding structure-property relationships to promote isomerisation of molecular photoswitches in the solid-state. This will be done by studying STFs with solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and X-ray diffraction techniques incorporating in situ light irradiation into the experiments.

Candidates must have (or be about to obtain) a PhD in Chemistry or a related discipline, coupled with experience in solid-state materials characterisation. Previous experience in either of solid-state NMR, first-principles DFT calculations, powder/ single crystal X-ray diffraction techniques and/or synthesis of microporous materials is highly desirable.

The project will be supervised by Drs John Griffin and Nathan Halcovitch in the Department of Chemistry at Lancaster University. The department hosts widebore 400 and 700 MHz solid-state NMR spectrometers with a range of probes including a custom-design MAS probe allowing in situ light irradiation of the sample.

Application procedure
This position starts on the 1st April 2019. Informal e-mail enquiries prior to making an application are welcomed, in which case contact Dr. John Griffin ( or Dr. Nathan Halcovitch ( Please apply for the position online through the Lancaster University portal -