HDR Scholarship - Improving battery electrolyte performance by visualising ion interactions and dynamics in unprecedented detail

Applications now open. A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'Improving battery electrolyte performance by visualising ion interactions and dynamics in unprecedented detail'.

Project Supervisor

Additional Supervision


Geelong Technology Precinct (GTP), Waurn Ponds Campus

Research topic

Ionic liquids (ILs), broadly defined as ionic compounds with melting points below 100 °C, show evidence of supramolecular ordering both in the bulk phase and at or near the interface. Such structuring depends on the nature of the cation and anion, and plays a major role in determining the physical properties that make ILs so versatile and useful as solvents, lubricants or electrolytes. As there exists an almost infinite number of potential combinations of IL cations and anions, understanding the nano-scale structure of ILs and its links to their macroscopic properties is crucial for the rational design of new systems. For example, in IL-based electrolytes used for lithium electrochemistry, the arrangement, conformation and dynamics of the ions, and in particular the interactions of the Li+ species with the other ions, are of fundamental importance as they will determine the lithium transport mechanism and ultimately the device performance.

In this project, we aim to use an advanced Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-based method previously developed by our group (J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 9, 2018, 1007) for probing the arrangement of ionic species in ILs that can provide accurate inter-nuclear distance information and allow us to construct a 3D visualisation of ion-ion interactions that can be compared directly with the results of molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Based on dynamic nuclear polarisation (DNP) NMR, this method will be used to study IL structures in the glassy state which represents a static snapshot of the liquid-state structure.

Project aim

The project will apply state-of-the-art NMR methods based on DNP to sodium-containing ionic liquid electrolytes for the first time, providing a picture of the sodium solvation environment with unprecedented detail. Methodology - Novel ionic liquids will be sourced from IFM's Electromaterials team and characterised using basic and advanced NMR (including HOESY, DNP, relaxation measurements, 17O) with also molecular dynamics (MD) simulations being carried out to provide further insights and aid the interpretation of the experimental data.

Important dates

Applications will remain open until a candidate has been appointed


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $28,900 per annum tax exempt (2022 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate
  • International students only:  Tuition fees offset for the duration of 4 years. Single Overseas Student Health Cover policy for the duration of the student visa.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be either a domestic or international candidate currently residing in Australia. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship.
  • meet Deakin's PhD entry requirements
  • be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master's degree with a substantial research component.

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.

How to apply

Please apply using the Find a Research Supervisor tool


Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact A/Prof Luke O'Dell

A/Prof Luke O'Dell
Email A/Prof Luke O'Dell
+61 3 522 73076