PhD and Postdoc Research Opportunities

We are a new research group in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London. We are expanding and welcome applications from excellent and motivated students and postdoctoral researchers to join us. A number of exciting projects are available in our group. Example projects are listed below. 

  • Design and synthesis of porous materials and functional polymers;
  • Membrane separation processes for gas separation, water purification, and chemical separation;
  • Advanced battery materials for energy conversion and storage, including Li-ion batteries, redox flow battery, Li - metal battery, solid-state battery;
  • Heterogeneous catalysis, and thermochemical or electrochemical reaction engineering for clean energy applications, including renewable H2 production, CO2 capture and conversion.

Two Postdoc Positions available

With the award of ERC starting grant, we will advertise two postdoc positions in the group. We look for one postdoc to work on synthesis of microporous polymer membranes and another Postdoc to work on electrochemical engineering and flow-battery energy storage. 

PhD studentships available for 2020-2021 entry

1. PhD Project in Advanced Membranes for Renewable Energy Conversion and Storage (UK/EU students) 

Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD studentship on developing proton-conductive membrane materials for energy conversion and storage funded by EPSRC and Shell. The PhD research will be performed at Imperial College London in collaboration with Shell. The PhD project will be co-supervised by Dr Qilei Song, Prof. Anthony Kucernak and Prof. Nigel Brandon. The group has strong expertise in research and development of membrane materials for emerging energy applications. Recent publications include: Nature Materials, 2019 (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41563-019-0536-8). The project will involve close collaborations with several other research groups in the UK. The project will provide access to cutting-edge equipment and advanced materials characterization facilities at several UK universities.  

With the rapid development of renewable energy such as solar and wind power, energy conversion and storage technologies are in urgent need for storing and integrating the low-carbon energy into the power grid. Flow batteries offer several advantages for stationary energy storage: the ability to decouple power and energy, to run for many charge/discharge cycles, and intrinsic levels of safety.  However commercially available vanadium flow battery systems are expensive, due to the high cost of vanadium.  The project will develop low-cost hydrogen-metal redox flow batteries, involving the development of catalysts, low-cost membranes and low-cost redox-active electrolytes.

The goal of this PhD project is to synthesize and characterize proton-conducting membrane separators and test membranes in hydrogen-metal redox flow battery and fuel cells. We will develop new polymer membranes with high proton conductivity and high selectivity towards redox active species. We will investigate the structure and properties of membranes by a range of characterization techniques, and ultimately to establish the structure-property-function relationship. We will also integrate these membranes with suitable electrocatalysts, electrodes and prepare membrane electrode assembly (MEA) and evaluate the performance in the fuel cell or flow battery device, which will provide feedback for improvement of electrocatalyst, membrane, and electrodes, as well as guidance for stack and system designs.

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain) the equivalent of a UK first class or upper second-class honours degree (and preferably a Master’s degree) in chemistry, materials science, chemical engineering, or other relevant fields. They should be keen to perform interdisciplinary research and particularly an interest in organic and polymer synthesis is essential. The project will involve close collaboration with Shell and the student will spend 3 months industrial placement in Shell (Amsterdam).

This studentship is available to start from 1 Oct 2020. Applications should be made through the College’s online application system. Important information about the College’s PhD application process can be found on the following page: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/pg/courses/doctoral-courses/phd/

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. Informal enquiries and requests for additional information for this post can be made to the lead supervisor: Dr Qilei Song by email at q.song@imperial.ac.uk

This PhD studentship is open to UK home students or EU students who have settled status in UK or were ordinarily residing in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the studentship. The studentship is for 4 years and will provide full coverage of tuition fees and living stipend.

2. PhD Studentship in Advanced Membranes for Clean Air and Clean Water - Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet DTP Studentship (UK/EU students) (Deadline, 6th Janaury, 2020)


The Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet (SSCP) DTP is pleased to announce 14 NERC funded studentships starting in October 2020. With six host research partners and a multitude of public and private sector partners, the SSCP DTP offers an innovative training and development programme that will prepare and inspire a new generation of environmental experts and leaders to tackle some of the toughest challenges of our time. Working across Imperial and with our partners, we integrate world-leading expertise from a range of disciplines and sectors to enable students to explore how research can inform and impact decision making in government and business. Broadening your skill set – the SSCP DTP offers both world-class research training and develops the essential skills required for successful careers in the environment sector. We do this through a mixture of interactive training, inspirational seminars and bespoke residential courses.

Secondment opportunities with government, business and NGOs complement this activity, expanding students’ horizons and increasing awareness of how organisations tackle environmental challenges.

Students join a vibrant and active cohort encompassing all areas of environmental science, from engineering to ecology, and even help to shape the development journey of the DTP itself. This not only enables our students to learn from different sectors but also help to direct their own training.

To view all the projects, how to apply and information on eligibility please visit our website.

The deadline for applications is 6th January 2020.

For any questions, please contact the SSCP DTP Doctoral Training Coordinator at s.hersov@imperial.ac.uk.

3. Full PhD studentship funded by Department of Chemical Engineering (Open to all applicants) (Deadline 31st October, 2019; 31st January, 2020)

Another PhD scholarship is Full PhD scholarship funded by the Department of Chemical Engineering, with tuition fees and living stipend fully covered. It is open to all applicants including overseas students. Details of the Departmental PhD studentship:  (Applications for this scholarship scheme will be considered throughout the academic year). Note that this full PhD scholarship is highly competitive.  The applicants will need to go through the selection by the department committee and pass through the Interview by the panel.  Students with an extraordinary academic background and strong publication record will be considered.

The research topic of this PhD project is open, can be synthesis of porous polymers, separation membranes, or battery materials. The project can be tailored according to the student's interest and the group research activities.  Applications from students interested in materials chemistry, polymer chemistry, chemical engineering, materials science, energy engineering, and energy conversion and storage are particularly encouraged.

Please send your CV and a cover letter as attachments to Dr Qilei Song (q.song@imperial.ac.uk). Your CV should include the detailed academic performance (including grades and marks) and names and contact details of two academic referees. Your cover letter should highlight your relevant experience and interests. Candidates will be considered until the position is filled.

What are we looking for

The research in our group is quite interdisciplinary. Talented and motivated students with academic experiences in materials chemistry, organic and polymer chemistry, chemical engineering, physics, membrane science, electrochemistry, and energy conversion and storage are encouraged to apply and join us. Preference will be given to the students with strong background in organic or polymer chemistry to work on the synthesis of materials and study applications in molecular separations and energy storage, and those with a strong background in engineering to develop membrane separation technology, energy storage technology, and novel processes. We expect the students to be highly motivated, and able to work independently and collaborate within a multidisciplinary team to carry out excellent and leading-edge research. The student should also be open-minded and willing to work on new research topics.  

While several projects focus on porous materials, detailed experience of characterisation of porous materials is not a prerequisite, and there will be opportunities to learn a range of techniques. 

For students to be strong candidates for the Departmental Scholarship or the CSC scholarships, they must have a very strong academic track record, previous experience of working in a laboratory and research interests relevant to the group.

English Language test

As part of the application process, you will be asked to show that you have met the College’s English-language requirement.
Our department has raised the standard to the higher one:
IELTS: 7.0 overall (minimum 6.5 in all elements); TOEFL: 100 overall (minimum 22 in all elements)

Contact details

It is essential that students make contact with departments/supervisors before submitting a PhD application. For informal enquiries, please send your CV and cover letter or personal statement to Dr Qilei Song. Email address: q.song@imperial.ac.uk

PhD studentships

A number of PhD scholarships are available at Imperial College including international scholarship collaborations.


Students with outstanding academic record and research experience are encouraged to apply for the Imperial College President's PhD ScholarshipApplications for this scholarship scheme will be considered throughout the academic year. 

Full PhD scholarship funded by the Department of Chemical Engineering (Deadline 10 December 2016, applications for this scholarship scheme will be considered throughout the academic year). 

The Imperial Marshall Scholarship Scheme

Imperial College and China Scholarship Council PhD Programme (CSC-Imperial PhD scholarship) 

CSC PhD scholarships 

You are also encouraged to look for other funding sources.

Self-funded students are also encouraged to contact by email. 

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

The group is also able to support for application for funding from external research fellowship schemes.

Newton International Fellowships

Marie Curie Fellowships

Postdoc Scholarship funded by the China Scholarship Council (CSC)


Visitors including undergraduate and PhD students are welcome to join our group. 


Contact details

We are always keen in working with talented and motivated students and postdocs. If you are interested in our research, please find more information on projects and contact us by email. For informal enquiries, please send your CV and cover letter or personal statement to Dr Qilei Song. Email address: q.song@imperial.ac.uk