Characterisation of Nanoporous Materials Using Adsorption at Cryogenic Conditions

Adsorption measurements at cryogenic conditions are widely used to characterize the textural properties of nanoporous materials. This is based on measuring adsorption equilibrium isotherms using probe molecules, such as argon or nitrogen and it is a general tool applicable to rigid and soft materials. Remarkably, even though such measurements are often routine (think of BET surface areas), very little is available in the literature on the kinetics of adsorption at these conditions. This project addresses this fundamental gap through volumetric and in-flow measurements, which provide both equilibrium and kinetic information, to be used to better understand the structure of nanoporous materials and provide the basis for the design of more efficient cryogenic separation processes.
The project will access state-of-the-art equipment available in our laboratory including: two Autosorb iQ systems;  Cryo-cooler unit for Autosorb iQ2 that allows direct control of temperature without the use of liquid N2 or Ar; PoreMaster mercury intrusion porosimeter; in-house designed and built adsorption differential volumetric apparatuses (ADVAs for both low and high pressure); in-house designed and built zero length column (ZLC) chromatographic system modified for cryogenic measurements.  
The project is co-sponsored by Air Liquide and systems to be studied will include those relevant to cryogenic separations, in order to develop fundamental understanding of adsorption equilibrium and kinetics in nanoporous materials at these conditions. The potential impact of the research will be diverse, from industrial applications to academic research in the characterization of nanoporous materials. Secondments at the Air Liquide Innovation Campus will provide the link between the study of fundamental properties of materials and their impact on cryogenic separations.
Further secondment opportunities are available as part of the collaboration with Prof. Mathias Thommes at Friedrich-Alexander Universität in Erlangen, Germany, who is the lead author of the 2015 IUPAC recommendations on the characterization of nanoporous materials. The student will also participate in at least two Edinburgh-Erlangen Schools of Adsorption: one at Edinburgh (more focus on adsorption engineering) and one at Erlangen (more focus on adsorption materials’ characterization).   
Brandani S. and Mangano E. The Zero Length Column Technique to Measure Adsorption Equilibrium and Kinetics: Lessons Learnt from 30 Years of Experience. Adsorption, 2020  
Wang J., Mangano E., Brandani S. and Ruthven D.M. A Review of Common Practices in Gravimetric and Volumetric Adsorption Kinetic Experiments. Adsorption, 2020  
Verbraeken M. and Brandani S. Predictions of Stepped Isotherms in Breathing Adsorbents by the Rigid Adsorbent Lattice Fluid. J. Phys. Chem. C., 2019, 123, 14517–14529  

Please note, the position will be filled once a suitable candidate has been identified

Further Information: 

The University of Edinburgh is committed to equality of opportunity for all its staff and students, and promotes a culture of inclusivity. Please see details here:

Closing Date: 

Monday, January 31, 2022

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Assistant Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Further information and other funding options.

Applications are welcomed from self-funded applicants, or applicants who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere

Tuition fees + stipend are available for Home students. International applicants (including EU applicants) can apply, but the funding only covers the Home fee rate

For information on EU students who may be eligible for home status, please see the page below: