Marsden Funded PhD Scholarship Available

Marsden Funded PhD Scholarship: Semiconductor catenation using catalysis

A Marsden funded PhD scholarship is available to work with Dr Erin Leitao in the School of Chemical Sciences at the University of Auckland.

Polymers with a carbon backbone are ubiquitous.  It is hard to go a day without coming in contact with one (polyethylene: e.g. plastic bags, bottles, toys; polypropylene: e.g. dollar bills; thermal clothing; polyisobutylene: e.g. chewing gum, tires). Polysilanes, polymers containing a Si-Si backbone, are in their relative infancy in terms of commercialization, but are highly sought after, as strong electronic s-conjugation is achieved upon linear Si-Si chain formation giving rise to properties with a wide-range of potential applications (e.g. photoconductors/initiators, explosive detecting materials, molecular recognition and information storage, semiconductors suitable for modern energy generation). Despite the first synthesis of polysilanes reported by Kipping nearly 100 years ago, and the growing interest in the utility of these materials, access to a mild and controlled synthetic method amenable to the large scale production of defect free (well-defined), strong (high molecular weight), high silicon content (extensive s-conjugation) and tunable polysilane is non-existent.  The research involves the design and synthesis of new silane building blocks, mechanistic exploration of the catalytic Si-Si bond formation reaction and the development of an efficient catalyst for the production of polysilanes.



The PhD candidate must have completed a MSc or a BSc (Honours) degree in chemistry, with first class honours or equivalent, and with a focus on synthetic inorganic chemistry. Some polymer chemistry knowledge is also desirable. The successful PhD candidate must be able to meet the requirements of, and enrol in, the University of Auckland’s PhD programme.

To apply please email Dr Erin Leitao at with your CV, academic transcript, a short statement of interest and the names and details of two professional referees.



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