Robert Raja is Professor of Materials Chemistry and Catalysis at the University of Southampton and co-founder and Chief Scientific Advisor of ViridiCO2, a spin-out company from the Raja lab.
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 48; www.scopus.com) 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.
- Heterogeneous Catalysis
- Sustainable Chemistry
- Carbon Capture Storage and Utilisation
- Renewable Energy
- Metal Nanoparticles and Single-site Nanocatalysts
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. Current research activities are focussed on exploiting our predictive design platform for the discovery and design of shape-selective, regioselective, bifunctional and enantioselective catalysts. Our catalytic technologies are ideally suited for the era of sustainable chemistry, where we look to provide decarbonisation solutions, through mitigating the use of fossil fuels and using alternate feedstocks, including CO2, for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals.
A recent research highlight involves the discovery of a hybrid catalyst platform that can efficiently and sustainably convert carbon dioxide into high-value chemical products, such as raw materials for recyclable plastics. (https://www.southampton.ac.uk/chemistry/news/2021/06/29-southampton-chemistry-solution-for-re-purposing-waste-co2.page). This new technology represents a significant advance from the finite potential of Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) technologies, while offering sustainable alternatives for the advanced manufacturing of plastics through Carbon Capture Utilisation (CCU).
Current PhD Students
I am currently module coordinator for CHEM1053, a first year undergraduate module, where I teach aspects of Main Group and Transition Metals Chemistry. As part of our research-led teaching initiative, I also coordinate the sustainable chemistry module (CHEM 3044), where aspects of my current research are shared with the student community. I have been Head of Inorganic Teaching from 2015-2020.
Professor Robert Raja joined the University of Southampton in June 2006 as a Reader/Associate Professor 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). In August 2016, Robert was promoted to Professor of Materials Chemistry and Catalysis and in September 2021 he took over as Deputy Head of School (Research and Enterprise).