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Professor Robert Raja MSc (Hons), PhD, FRSC

Professor of Materials Chemistry and Catalysis, Deputy Head of School Research and Enterprise,Co-Chair Clean Carbon Strategic Group

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Robert Raja is Professor of Materials Chemistry and Catalysis at the University of Southampton and Chief Scientific Advisor of ViridiCO2, a spin-out company from the Raja lab.

Robert joined the University of Southampton in June 2006 as a Reader in Chemistry and his career includes appointments at the University of Cambridge (1999-2006), Bayer Chemicals, Germany (joint appointment, 2001-2003) and Royal Commission 1851 Exhibition fellowship at the Royal Institution of Great Britain (1997-1999).

The focal theme of research within his Group entails the discovery, design and fabrication of novel catalytic materials, for application as single-site heterogeneous catalysts, in chemical, pharmaceutical, fine-chemical and environmental sectors for developing sustainable technologies. The diversity of his research has also been pivotal in establishing a predictive design platform for the discovery of advanced catalytic materials, expanding scope to the rational design of hybrid materials and photonic fibres for hydrogen generation and CO2 storage and utilisation.

His research includes funding from UKRI (EPSRC), Royal Society, European Commission Horizon 2020 programme, core membership to the EPSRC UK Catalysis Hub as a co-investigator, and framework grants with industrial partners (Total Research and Technology (Europe), Honeywell (USA), UOP (USA), Signa Chemistry (USA), Bayer (Germany)).  His research has been instrumental in licensing catalytic technology to the chemical and pharmaceutical industries and his IP portfolio in the sustainable manufacture of polymers and nylon is being developed for pilot studies.

Author of over 225 research publications in peer-reviewed journals (h-index =46) and inventor on 50+ International Patents.

Notable accolades include: The 2020 Emerging Technologies Award in Energy and Environment (Royal Society of Chemistry), The Honeywell Inventor Award, Erskine Fellowship awarded by the University of Canterbury (New Zealand), the Santander Universities Entrepreneurial Award, and the Barrer Award by the Royal Society of Chemistry ‘in recognition of outstanding contributions to preparative materials chemistry and their application to industrial catalysis’. He is also a Visiting Professor at several universities worldwide.

Current Research Projects

Multi-inlet comprehensive gas chromatography and high resolution mass spectrometry (EP/S033343/1): EPSRC-funded project for combining cutting edge sample inlets, chromatographic separation and MS capability for delivering qualitative and quantitative analysis of novel and strategically important chemistries across a range of applications.

Predictive Molecular Design of Multifunctional Nanocatalysts (Total Research and Technology): industry-funded project, aimed at creating an atomic-scale design platform for the predictive fabrication of advanced nanocatalysts that are versatile for emerging petrochemical applications.

MULTI-site organic-inorganic HYbrid CATalysts for MULTI-step chemical processes (MULTI2HYCAT, European Union Horizon 2020 Programme, EU 720783): European Union funded project to investigate the design of a new class of hierarchically-porous organic-inorganic hybrid materials, for industrial validation in multi-step, asymmetric catalytic processes that are of relevance to the pharmaceutical and fine-chemical industry

CO2 storage and utilisation (EP/N013883/1): EPSRC-funded project that explores the interface of photonics and catalysis for the generation of renewable transport fuels.

Ionic-liquid metal-oxide hybrids (EP/K014714/1): UK Catalysis Hub funded project for integrating functionalised ionic liquids within porous structures to effect synergy in solid-acid catalysis

Multifunctional and hierarchical architectures (EP/K014714/1): EPSRC funded project as part of the UK Catalysis Hub, based at Harwell Research Complex.

CO2 activation and functionalisation: Combined Catalytic and Spectroscopic Approach using Neutron and Muon Spectroscopy, funded by Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Functionalised hierarchical architectures: industry-funded program to develop advanced catalysts for selective oxidation and nylon manufacture.

Multifunctionalised nanoparticles: industry-funded research project for designing novel catalysts for the aerobic oxidation of KA-oil.

Sustainable nanocomposites: industry-funded collaborative project with Southampton Marine Maritime Institute leading to the versatile design of sustainable polymeric composites through catalysis.

Photocatalysis for H2 generation: developing multiphasic non-PGM catalysts, in partnership with ASTAR Singapore and industry, for solar-driven water-splitting.

SETsquared: Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe) Programme award: Viridi CO2 (pre-spin-out company); Hybrid catalyst platform for CO2-derived polymers.

Predictive fabrication of visible-light sensitive plasmonic nanocatalysts for efficient conversion of CO2 to light synthetic fuels (Royal Society, UK, NIF\R1\180185): Royal Society funded project for developing multifunctional catalytic technology capable of recycling CO2 directly into liquid synthetic fuels, at the cutting edge of carbon capture (CCS) and utilisation (CCU) research.

EPSRC Impact Acceleration Award for developing a Hybrid Platform Catalyst for the direct insertion of CO2 for synthesis of polymers and platform chemicals.

Engineering Active Sites for Enhacing Catalytic Synergy poster
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Marine renewable energy
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Research keywords

Single-site heterogeneous catalysts, selective oxidation, asymmetric synthesis, renewable energy, sustainable development, nanotechnology, multifunctional films & coatings. 


Research interests

Our approach to the design of environmentally benign and highly active single-site heterogeneous catalysts adopts the principles and practices of solid-state chemistry, augmented by lessons derived from enzymology, as well as computational chemistry. This entails the design and synthesis of novel inorganic porous solids, especially those with open structures where the active sites are atomically engineered and fully characterized, the microporosityand mesoporosityof which confer attractive and adaptable adsorptive and catalytic properties. In this way we have succeeded in designing a range of new catalysts to effect, interalia, shape-selective, regioselective, bifunctional and enantioselective catalytic conversions. In particular, large fractions of these catalysts are ideally suited for the era of clean technology in which single-step and/or solvent-free processes abound, and in which benign oxidants such as air or oxygen and inexpensive nanoporous materials are employed.


Research group

Functional Inorganic, Materials and Supramolecular Chemistry

Research project(s)

Raja: Bioinspired Solid Catalysts for Sustainable Oxidations

Raja: Design Approach in Heterogeneous Organocatalysis

Raja: Engineering Active Sites for Enhancing Catalytic Synergy

Raja: Sustainable Catalysis for Renewable Energy Applications

Raja: Multifunctional hierarchical architectures for biodiesel production

Raja: Renewable marine energy and maritime engineering

Raja: Hybrid catalysts for biomass conversions to selective chemical intermediates

Raja: Hydrogen generation via photocatalytic oxidation of water

Design of Heterogenous Organocatalysts

Head of Functional Inorganic Materials and Supramolecular Chemistry

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Key Publications


Book Chapters




Head of Inorganic Teaching (2015-2020)

Module Coordinator, CHEM1053 (Main Group and Transition Metals Chemistry)

Module Coordinator, CHEM3044/6013 (Sustainable Chemistry)

2020-2021 SETsquared (ICURe) Award: Viridi CO2; Hybrid catalyst platform for CO2-derived polymers

2019-2021 Royal Society, (NIF\R1\180185) Predictive fabrication of visible-light sensitive plasmonic nanocatalysts for efficient conversion of CO2 to light synthetic fuels

2020-2021 EPSRC Impact Acceleration Award;  Hybrid Catalyst Platform for CCS and CCU

2019-2022 EPSRC (EP/S033343/1), Multi-inlet GC and high resolution mass spectrometry.

2019-2023 Joint PhD studentship with Diamond Light Source on combining nanoscale ptychography and multiscale imaging for probing multifunctional hierarchical catalysts.

2018-2022   Industry, Catalysts of the Future

2017-2020   EU Horizon 2020 Programme (CORDIS project abstract, EU 720783), MULTI2HYCAT (About MULTI2HYCAT)  

2016-19 EPSRC (EP/N013883/1), Adventures in Energy, Co-I

2016-19 Science & Technology Facilities Council, CO2 utilisation and neutron scattering

2015-19 Industry, Functionalised hierarchical architectures

2014-18 Industry, Multifunctional nanoparticles

2013-18 EPSRC (EP/K014714/1), UK Catalysis Hub, Co-I

2012-16 Industry, Modulating acidity in solid-acid catalysts

2012-15 EU Interreg A-I Chem Channel, Co-I

2012-13 Industry, Optical fibres for sensing

2010-14 Industry, Exploiting catalytic synergy

2009-13 Industry, C-H activation of hydrocarbons and aromatics

2009-13 Industry, Catalytic dehydration

2008-12 EPSRC (CASE), Multifunctional clusters to nanoparticles

2007-11 Industry, Catalytic ammoximation

2005-10 EU Network of Excellence, Co-I Multifunctional film


Professor Robert Raja
Chemistry University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 30/2049

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