Kent Lille Cotutelle: LATP glass-ceramic electrolytes to advance battery technology for a low carbon future

University of Kent
March 24, 2023
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Scholarship value

Tuition fees and stipend at the standard Research Council rate (Home rate only: £4,596 (fees) and £17,668 (stipend) in 2022/23). The 2023/2024 rate is yet to be announced by the UK Research Councils.


Applications must be received by Sunday Friday 24 March 2023, 23:59 GMT


Open to home and international fee paying students. Home fees only are provided, the shortfall in international fees would need to be self-funded.

Scholarships are available on a cotutelle (dual award) basis only.

Students have to spend at least 12 months at Kent and Lille.

Key attributes and skills for prospective applicants:

  • motivation to experience research in a multi-institutional and multi- national setting: the desire to encounter different research cultures and environments.
  • knowledge of English: the international language of science and the common language for research at Kent and Lille.
  • (optional) experience of a second language: recognising the influence of language differences between cultures.
  • (optional) knowledge of French: the national and local language at Lille.
  • motivation to act to stop climate change: applying science to find alternatives for burning fossil fuels and CO2 emissions.
  • good UG academic qualification in a relevant discipline: such as integrated UG masters (UK) or 3+2 yr degree (EU) in Chemistry, Physics, or Materials Science.
  • good references: attesting to prior interactions with academics.
  • previous experience of projects or research: such as an UG research project or literature review.
  • interest in battery technology: such as reading in the subject, and ability to relate UG knowledge to the subject.
  • motivation to complete a PhD qualification: such as career plans to become a researcher in academia or industry.
  • extra-curricular experience in self-reliance and/or team work: recognising the importance personal and inter-personal skills.
  • Further details

    Kent Lille Cotutelle: LATP glass-ceramic electrolytes to advance battery technology for a low carbon future


  • Dr Gavin Mountjoy (Kent),
  • Dr Maria Alfredsson (Kent),
  • Dr Gregory Tricot (Lille),
  • Dr Sylvain Cristol (Lille)
  • Li ion technology the first choice for future battery technology. A number of advances are being sought. Changing from liquid to solid electrolytes improves safety and sustainability by removing organic volatiles. Introducing glass into the electrolyte lowers the working temperature which reduces energy expenditure and enables more applications. Additionally, a cathode reaction between Li and air (i.e. lithium-air battery) increases energy density.

    This project will advance the use of lithium-based glass-ceramics as solid electrolytes. (Glass-ceramics are obtained by tempering a glass to introduce fine crystals which provide strength.) The focus will be on lithium alumino- titano-phosphate (LATP) glass-ceramics with promising Li ion conductivity (analogous to "NASICON" materials for Na ion conductivity). Also, LATP materials are suitable for lithium-air batteries.

    This project will develop a detailed understanding of the atomic mechanisms for Li ion conductivity in LATP glass-ceramics. It will also increase the variety of these materials by including boron and silicon. The combination of understanding and exploration will be used to obtain solid electrolytes with superior performance.

    Note that in the 1st and 3rd years the student will be based at University of Kent, and in the 2nd year the student will be based at Université di Lille. The student's training in materials research and battery technology will enable a career in academia or with battery manufacturers, and hence further contribute to a change over to energy technology without fossil fuels.


    It is necessary to change over to energy technology that avoids burning of fossil fuels. Batteries are essential to smooth out supply of electricity from renewable sources, and for electric vehicles.

    The most common batteries are charged and discharged by Li ions being transferred between the cathode and anode. An electrolyte material is key to enable Li ion transfer (or conductivity).


    At Kent: a literature review will be done on (i) LATP materials, (ii) solid electrolytes, and (iii) advanced battery designs (e.g. lithium-air batteries); LATP materials will be synthesized, and Li ion conductivity will be measured; molecular dynamics (MD) modelling will be used to simulate the Li ion conductivity.

    At Lille: nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy (1D/2D 7Li, 27Al, 31P, 49Ti, 29Si and 11B) will be crucial to study the glass network; the experimental NMR data will be interpreted by comparison with simulated NMR data from MD models.

    Combining the above techniques will provide powerful analysis of the atomic mechanism of Li ion conductivity. Further LATP compositions containing boron and silicon will be explored. The most promising LAP material obtained will be demonstrated in a battery at Kent.

    Selected references

    1 Zhai H. et al (2017) Nano Letters 17, 3182;

    2 Sun J. et al. (2017) Scientific Reports 7, 41217;

    3 Leo C.J. (2002) Materials Research Bulletin 37, 1419;

    4 Manthiram A. et al (2017) Nature Review Materials 2, 16103.

    How to apply

    To apply please go to https: // www. (PhD in Chemistry) or https: // www. (PhD in Physics).

    You will need to apply through the online application form on the main University website. Please note that you will be expected to provide personal details, education and employment history and supporting documentation (Curriculum Vitae, transcript of results, two academic references). Applications should state that you would like to be considered for this Kent- Lille studentship project and be submitted with a supporting statement from the Kent Lead Supervisor.

    Informal enquires

    Students are welcome to make informal enquiries about the project by contacting Dr Gavin Mountjoy ([email protected]) or any of the other project supervisors.

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