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Stimuli-responsive 3D covalent organic materials for solar energy conversion and water detoxification

ABG-114795 Thesis topic
2023-05-26 Public/private mixed funding
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Centre of New Technologies, University of Warsaw
- Poland
Stimuli-responsive 3D covalent organic materials for solar energy conversion and water detoxification
  • Chemistry
  • Materials science
Organic synthesis, Surface functionalization, Smart materials, (Photo)Electrochemistry, Artificial photosynthesis, Water detoxification

Topic description

The intensive use of fossil fuels responsible to a great extent for global warming and for the increasing amount of environmental pollutants are current global challenges that require to be addressed urgently for the safety and prosperity of the biosphere. To this end, this project aims at developing a universal, green “smart matrix” that can promote improved functionalities of various types of responsive devices that, together with their enhanced stability, will trigger the fast deployment of viable renewable technologies.

Various stimuli-responsive nanostructures, obtained through electrografting of “smart” diazonium salts on cheap and transparent materials, will be developed for exploitation in two areas: solar energy conversion and water detoxification. In a first approach, the smart unit will be implemented in a highly structured interface between the electrode surface and biophotocatalysts to generate a novel biohybrid nanoarchitecture with improved solar-conversion efficiency compared to the devices of a similar type. In a second approach, different nanoarchitectures encompassing multiple smart units will be developed to study heavy metals entrapment capability and selectivity. The possibility of a well-controlled release of the captured pollutants using external stimuli will be investigated for the first time.

Starting date


Funding category

Public/private mixed funding

Funding further details

SONATA18 grant (NCN)

Presentation of host institution and host laboratory

Centre of New Technologies, University of Warsaw

The Centre of New Technologies (CeNT UW) is an interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to the understanding of important biological, chemical, and physical phenomena. Our scientists tackle fundamental scientific problems as well as collaborate on the translation and application of knowledge to the industry. CeNT UW provides a truly international outlook with an unsurpassed environment for both young and established researchers, as well as promotes the education of the PhD students.


Solar energy conversion is one of the few renewable ways to produce clean energy to meet the increasing demands of modern civilization. In the era of global climate change, there is a strong need to understand photosynthetic processes and their regulatory basis, particularly in relation to solar fuel production in extreme environments.

Solar Fuels Laboratory research focuses on three main long-term objectives:

  • to understand the mechanisms of photosynthetic energy conversion at the molecular level in the extremophilic photosynthetic apparatus, using model extremophiles such as the red microalga Cyanidioschyzon merolae and cyanobacterium Thermosynechococcus elongatus,
  • to dissect molecular mechanisms of photosynthetic adaptation under extreme conditions and fluctuating light,
  • to construct truly ‘green’, viable, biohybrid solar-to-fuel nanodevices that mimic the most crucial steps of the early stages of photosynthesis to produce fuels, such as molecular hydrogen and renewable carbon-based fuels.

PhD title

Doctorate in chemical sciences

Country where you obtained your PhD


Institution awarding doctoral degree

University of Warsaw

Graduate school

Doctoral School of Exact and Natural Sciences

Candidate's profile

  • Scientific requirements:

• MSc degree in the field of chemistry, organic synthesis or material chemistry.

• Experience in organic synthesis under inert atmosphere (Schlenk line).

• Experience with spectroscopic characterizations (NMR / IR / UV-visible).

• Knowledge in electrochemistry / electrochemical analysis would be an advantage.

• Interest in materials science and stimuli-responsive systems.

• Good command of written and spoken English is essential.

• Good laboratory practices and work ethic.


  • Formal requirements:

• The competition is open for persons who meet the conditions specified in the regulations on the allocation of resources for the implementation of tasks financed by the National Science Centre for SONATA 18 grant.

• The MSc degree should be obtained before the date of starting work in the project – by 30.09.2023 at the latest.

• Confirmed status of a PhD student on the day of starting work in the project (01.10.2023). 

Important: To receive the stipend, the successful candidate needs to have the status of PhD student at a Polish university either in a PhD programme or in the Doctoral School of Exact and Natural Sciences of the University of Warsaw.

See the recruitment schedule at the following link: https://szkolydoktorskie.uw.edu.pl/nauki-chemiczne-rekrutacja-2023-2024/

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