Christopher Parlett

Christopher Parlett


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Personal profile


Chris is the University of Manchester-Diamond Light Source Research Fellow in Catalysis, working at Diamond light source within The University of Manchester at Harwell group. His research is focused on the development of catalytic systems for a range of chemical transformations, and the utilisation of X-ray spectroscopy to gain an understanding of the catalytic active site. Prior to joining the University of Manchester, Chris worked at Aston University within the European Bioenergy Research Institute developing catalytic nanomaterials for biomass upgrading to fine chemicals and fuels, which followed post-doctoral research positions at the University of Warwick and Cardiff University. Chris obtained his PhD from Cardiff University, which was undertaken under the guidance of Professors Adam F. Lee and Karen Wilson, investigating Pd nanoparticle doped porous oxides for catalytic selective oxidation of alcohols. This followed an MSc in Green Chemistry and Sustainable Industrial Technology at the University of York, and a BSc in Chemistry from Anglia Ruskin University. 

Research interests

My research lies in the design and development of heterogeneous catalytic systems and employment of operando spectroscopic techniques to monitor these under real working conditions. The focus is on the nano-engineering of catalytic solid materials, for the replacements for existing expensive and environmentally harmful industrially required reagents. In particular, I am exploring the development of catalytic materials for sustainable chemical conversions, including selective oxidations of alcohols and carbonyl species and biomass upgrading. I am also interested in the employment of functional nanomaterials for alternative applications, including gas storage and healthcare. The overarching aim of my research is the development of novel porous nanomaterials, via an educated design approach, that have the capacity to address issues of public concern.

Catalysts design

With regard to catalysts engineering, I am interested in the role that support materials play. This covers both the role that they play with regard to mass-diffusion and their influence on the physical and chemical properties of deposited catalytic reactive sites, specifically metal nanoparticles and acid/base species.  This is investigated through the utilisation of porous oxide materials, including hierarchical structures of these, with an aim to manipulate the physicochemical properties of the support and the species deposited, including the spatial location of active sites.

Operando spectroscopy

Operando X-ray absorption spectroscopic studies, conducted at national and international X-ray research facilities, enable a detailed understanding of the catalytic active site, which are underpinned by structure-activity correlations. Combining these enables the elucidation of the active species responsible, whilst simultaneously shedding light on undesirable deactivation processes that negatively impact on catalyst on-stream lifetime. This insight is invaluable and feeds back into future catalyst design strategies to enable more effective nano-engineering of catalytic materials.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Areas of expertise

  • QD Chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Porous materials
  • X-ray absorption spectroscopy
  • Nanoparticles


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