Skip to main content

Research Studentship in Engineering Performance of Polymers produced from CO2

Research Studentship in Engineering Performance of Polymers produced from CO2

Project: Engineering Polymers from CO2 using advanced switchable catalysis

3.5-year DPhil studentship 

Supervisors: Prof Clive Siviour

There is a strong desire to replace petrochemical-based polymers with materials manufactured from more sustainable feedstocks, one of which is carbon dioxide (CO2).  Carbon dioxide may be combined with other bio-derived feedstock to produce polymers with a range of controllable properties; life cycle assessments confirm lower greenhouse gas emissions.  Previous studies have produced materials with mechanical properties that were not appropriate for engineering applications.  We believe that improved polymer synthesis and catalysis techniques developed by our collaborators in the Department of Chemistry will allow for the preparation of CO2 copolymers with improved and controllable thermal and mechanical responses suitable for a wide range of different uses.

The aim of this project is to develop novel CO2 derived polymers, characterise their mechanical performance over a range of relevant Engineering conditions, and thereby optimise these materials so that they have properties comparable to typical engineering polymers, such as polycarbonate.  You will be responsible for identifying and performing appropriate characterisation experiments over a wide range of loading conditions from static to impact, building on the suite of techniques currently available in Oxford, but with particular emphasis, early on in the project, on being able to effectively obtain properties from small quantities of materials.  You will also perform constitutive modelling.  Synthesis will be performed by another student in Chemistry, with whom you will be expected to work closely.  Later in the project, there will be opportunity to explore further development of novel experimental or modelling methodologies.  The project will also consider recycling and end of life options for the materials.  Hence, at the end of the project, you will have developed a range of relevant skills in mechanical engineering, but also a good understanding of extremely important topics in the field of sustainable polymers.



This studentship is fully funded at the Home level (fees plus stipend) by the Dutch Polymer Institute.  There may also be opportunity to obtain further funding for, or a contribution towards, Overseas fees.

Award Value

Course fees are covered at the level set for UK students (c. £8621 p.a.). The stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) is c. £20,000 p.a. for the first year, and at least this amount for a further two and a half years. 

Candidate Requirements

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

  • A first-class honours degree (or equivalent) in Physics, Engineering, or Materials Science
  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills in English 

The following skills are also highly desirable:

  • Ability to program in Matlab, Python, or similar
  • Strong laboratory-based skills

Applicants with a good 2.1 degree are also encouraged to apply if they can demonstrate excellent laboratory skills through previous research or an undergraduate project.

Application Procedure

Candidates must submit a graduate application form and are expected to meet the graduate admissions criteria.  Details are available on the course page of the University website.

Before going through this process, applicants are strongly encouraged to make informal enquiries, which should be addressed to Prof Daniel Eakins (

Please quote 23ENGMM_CS correspondence and in your graduate application.

Application deadline: 16 June 2023

Start date: October 2023 or January 2024