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Professor Robert Raja MSc (Hons), PhD, FRSC

Professor of Materials Chemistry and Catalysis, Co-Chair Clean Carbon Strategic Group, Head of Functional Inorganic, Materials and Supramolecular Chemistry

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Professor Robert Raja is Professor of Materials Chemistry and Catalysis at the University of Southampton.

Robert Raja joined the University of Southampton in June 2006 as Reader in Chemistry, following a research career at the University of Cambridge (2001-2006), Bayer Chemicals, Germany (1999-2001), the Royal Institution of Great Britain (1997-1999) as an 1851 Exhibition Fellow, and the National Chemical Laboratory, India (1994-1997). His multidisciplinary research group are involved in the holistic design of catalytic materials at the nanoscale, and understanding the behaviour of catalytic processes at the molecular level for multi-scale energy, environmental and sustainable chemical technologies. 

Through his collaborations as co-investigator on the EPSRC UK Catalysis Hub and with his numerous partnerships with Industry (Honeywell, SiGNa, UOP, Bayer), he has pioneered the rational design of multifunctional active sites, which has led to the development of single-site heterogeneous catalysts for the nylon industry (ε-caprolactam) and in the asymmetric synthesis of pharmaceutical and fine-chemical intermediates, that have led to the award of 27 patents in the last 5 years. He is the author of more than 140 research publications, in peer-reviewed journals, with an h-index of 41. His notable accolades include the Honeywell Inventors Award (2014), Santander Universities Entrepreneurial Award (2012), Erskine Fellowship (2008) and the Barrer Award (2005).

Fully Funded PhD Studentships (2019)

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.

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 funding

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 films


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

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

Room Number: 30/2049

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