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. EPSRC ICASE PhD Studentship (start immediately in 2021)

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.

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), and sensor research groups in University of Southampton. 

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.

This studentship is available to start immediately (1 March 2021). Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the start date can be extended to October 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: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/pg/courses/doctoral-courses/phd/
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: https://epsrc.ukri.org/skills/students/help/eligibility/.


2. Full PhD studentship funded by Department of Chemical Engineering (Open to all applicants) 

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 (Deadlines: 31st October, and 31st January). 

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