Thermoelectric (TE) materials can convert heat into electricity directly, via the Seebeck effect. On the other hand, catalyst improves the activity, selectivity and life-time of a chemical reaction and are used on over 95% of industrial processes. The novel technology of thermoelectric promotion of catalysis combines thermoelectric energy harvesting with catalyst promotion together, and has been applied successfully to the reduction of carbon dioxide to useful chemicals, and antibacterial disinfection by enhanced production of reactive oxygen species. One of the advantage of this technique is that it does not need to connect p-type and n-type TE legs to form a closed circuit module, hence greatly reduce the device complexity and production cost. Furthermore, this open circuit configuration suggests that the electrical conductivity could play a less important rule, hence calls for a new figure of merit for property optimization for this novel application.

This project aims to develop a high performance thermoelectric material suited for the application of thermoelectrocatalysis. Analytical and numerical modelling, as well as experimental approaches will be adopted in the development of a surface porous and bulk dense TE materials.

The project objectives will be to: 1) Theoretical analysis of thermoelectric property for the surface porous and bulk dense TE; 2) Preparation of porous thermoelectric materials; 3) Integration of dense bulk with porous surface TE; 4) Increased catalytic activity by a TE with a dense bulk and porous surface.

The candidate will be based at the Surface Engineering and Manufacturing Centre, which provides state-of-the-art equipment for the manufacture, analysis and characterisation of materials, either as coatings or nano-particulates. The Centre also houses a biosensors/sensors laboratory comprising of optical, acoustic and several electrochemical sensing platforms.

This is a self-funded PhD open to UK, EU and international applicants.

This project is part of the effort to develop a novel technology which can combine thermoelectric energy harvesting and catalytic chemical reaction, so that those difficult chemical processes can be carried out with better efficiency and at lower cost.

The candidate will work in a multidisciplinary environment consisting of material chemists, engineers, physicists, biologists and clinicians. During the PhD, the candidate will gain the invaluable experience of working at the intersection of several research fields with the challenges and opportunities that this represents. On addition, this self-funded PhD project includes the ability to participate in industry-led research initiatives and access to the Cranfield Doctoral Training Network.

At the end of the PhD, the candidate will have become a well-rounded independent scientist with the possibility to progress their career either in academia or industry in several research areas from material chemistry and physics, engineering, and sustainable energy and environment.

At a glance

  • Application deadline01 Sep 2023
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Duration of award3 years
  • EligibilityUK, EU, Rest of World
  • Reference numberSATM322

Entry requirements

Candidates should have a minimum of an upper second (2:1) honours degree (or equivalent) preferably in one of the following disciplines: Material science/Physics/Chemistry/ Nanotechnology or related fields. Candidates with a MSc degree in these disciplines will be desirable.


Self-funded PhD opportunity open to UK, EU and international students.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

If you are eligible to apply for this research studentship please complete the online application form.

For further information please contact
Dr Zhaorong Huang