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Chemistry: Exploring new reactivity in low-oxidation state main-group chemistry

Subject areas:

Programme: Chemistry Research MPhil/PhD.

Funding type:

Bench Fees / Research Training & Support Grant. Study costs. Stipend.

Awarding body:

King's College London.

The design, synthesis and characterisation of new low oxidation state main-group organometallic compounds; building towards the use of main-group metals in redox driven catalytic processes.

Award details

Main-group chemistry has seen a rapid rise in popularity in recent years; from the synthesis of chemical curiosities that are impossibly stable, to the use of main-group complexes in catalysis, bond activation and materials applications. Exploration of this often-underutilised section of the periodic table is driven by the cheap, Earth abundant and non-toxic nature of many of these elements as well as the need to alleviate global demand on the conventional precious metal systems more commonly employed in many chemical processes. Recent advances is the field have revealed that main-group elements have can adopt reactivity more commonly associated with transition metals, with redox-type processes now becoming valuable synthetic methodologies [1]. In particular, group 2 and group 13 metals have shown themselves to be stable and isolatable in unusual low oxidation states when suitable supporting ligands are employed. The field is progressing rapidly, for instance since 2018 there has been an explosion of new low oxidation state aluminium compounds isolated which have been shown to exhibit a wide range of diverse and unusual reactivity [2]. We are interested in creating new low oxidation state main-group complexes and exploring their reactivity. This project will focus on the design, synthesis and characterisation of new low oxidation state main-group organometallic compounds. More specifically we are interested in: accessing new examples of low oxidation state main group compounds via untraditional synthetic routes; building towards the use of main-group metals in redox driven catalytic processes by targeting reversible processes; developing methods to isolate low oxidation state compounds on a synthetically useful scale and reactivity investigations with an emphasis on the activation of environmentally relevant small molecules (e.g. C–H activation in hydrocarbons, CO2, CO). The student will be trained in; methods for the synthesis and handling of air and moisture sensitive chemicals and compounds (Schlenk line techniques, glove box), synthetic analytical techniques (e.g. NMR, XRD, mass spectrometry), methods for elucidating reaction pathways/mechanisms, option for using computations to support research (DFT).


1.C. Weetman, S. Inoue, ChemCatChem 2018, 10, 4213-4228.

2. K. Hobson, C. Carmalt, C. Bakewell, Chem. Sci. 2020, 11, 6942-6956

Award value

Stipend: Tax-free stipend set at the standard UKRI rate, currently £20,622 with the London Weighting Allowance.

Bench Fees: Approximately £4,500 for wet lab research.

Tuition fees: Home fees covered by the studentship. 

Eligibility criteria

Home fees Students only are welcome to apply

  • Prospective candidates should have a 1st or 2:1 M-level qualification in Chemistry, or a related subject.
  • Candidates should be able to demonstrate an aptitude for problem solving, time management, creative thinking and independence. We will work as part of a small and highly focussed team, so the ability to work in a synergistic and collaborative manner is important.
  • Experience of synthetic inorganic chemistry is desirable but not essential.

Application process

1.Complete an online application on the King’s Apply system at

    1. Register a new account/login
    2. Once logged in, select Create a new application
    3. Enter ‘Chemistry Research MPhil/PhD (Full-time/Part-time)' under “Choose a programme”. Please ensure you select the correct mode of study.
    4. You must name 2 referees and they must submit references within 7 days of the deadline or they will not be considered.

NOTE: If you have already submitted an application on King’s Apply for the Chemistry Research MPhil/PhD (Full-time/Part-time) for any research projects starting 2024/2025, do not submit another application. Please include your King’s Apply Portal Number when you send your CV and personal statement to

2. Applicants should also email their CV and cover letter directly to Dr Clare Bakewell (

3.CV submission and online application MUST both be completed by the deadline. Email submission and online application MUST both be completed by the deadline.

All relevant information regarding eligibility, including academic and English language requirements, is available from the King’s Chemistry Website.


Selection process

The selection process will involve a pre-selection on documents, if selected this will be followed by an invitation to an interview. If successful at the interview, an offer will be provided in due time.

Contact details: 

For administrative matters, contact 

Funding provider web address: 

Postgraduate research courses | Department of Chemistry | King’s College London (

Academic year:


Grant code:

Bakewell Studentship

Study mode:

Postgraduate research

Application closing date:

Contact us for details on when to apply