Dr Phoebe Allan MSci, PhD

Image courtesy - Diamond Light Source

School of Chemistry
Birmingham Fellow

Contact details

School of Chemistry
Haworth Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Phoebe Allan is a Birmingham Fellow in the School of Chemistry.

Her research focuses on materials chemistry for energy storage. The goal of her research is to understand the links between the structure of a material, and its electrochemical properties, using techniques including: synchrotron X-ray and neutron powder diffraction, pair distribution function analysis, and spectroscopic techniques (Raman, NMR, X-ray adsorption spectroscopy). A particular interest is developing experiments which probe the structure of a material as it changes, in real-time, and under operational conditions. This approach gives insight into which structural features are desirable for obtaining new materials with improved performance.

Current areas of interest include new electrode and electrolyte materials for lithium- and sodium- and aluminium-ion batteries.


  • PhD in Chemistry, University of St Andrews, 2012
  • MSci Natural Sciences (Physical), University of Cambridge, 2008


Dr Allan studied Physical Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge from 2004 - 2008.  Her final year project focused on the synthesis and characterisation of metal-organic frameworks using phosphine-based ligands, under the supervision of Dr Simon Humphrey. 

She completed a PhD with Professor Russell Morris FRS at the University of St Andrews in 2012, where she worked on the storage of medical gases using metal-organic frameworks. She was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the group of Professor Clare Grey FRS from 2012 – 2013, then held a Junior Research Fellow at Gonville and Caius College, and an Oppenheimer Fellowship from the School of Physical Sciences, University of Cambridge from 2013 – 2018. Here, her research focused on developing synchrotron-based studies to understand and develop new electrodes for lithium and sodium-ion batteries.

From 2015 – 2017, she has also worked as a beamline support scientist at Diamond Light Source -  the UK’s synchrotron source, developing sample environments for diffraction and imaging beamlines, and later working on the design of the new Dual Imaging and Diffraction (DIAD) beamline which will become operational in 2020.

Postgraduate supervision

Phoebe is seeking motivated students for projects in the following areas:

  • Synthesis and characterisation of new potential electrode materials for sodium- and aluminium-ion batteries
  • Developing synchrotron-based methods for understanding synthesis-structure-property relationships in energy materials.

If you are interested in studying one of these subject areas, please contact Dr Allan on the contact details above, or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email: dr@contacts.bham.ac.uk

For a full list of available Doctoral Research opportunities, please visit our Doctoral Research programme listings.


Research Themes:

  • Solid-state electrochemistry
  • Lithium- and sodium-ion batteries
  • Diffraction and spectroscopy
  • Crystallography


Selected publications:

Stratford, J. M., Mayo, M., Allan, P. K., Pecher, O., Borkiewicz, O. J, Wiaderek, K. M., Chapman, K. W., Pickard,C. J., Morris, A. J., Grey, C. P., (2017) Investigating Sodium Storage Mechanisms in Tin Anodes: A Combined Pair Distribution Function Analysis, Density Functional Theory and Solid-State NMR Approach, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 139 (21), 7273, DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b01398

Stratford, J. M., Allan, P. K., Pecher, O., Chater, P. A, Grey, C. P., (2016), Mechanistic insights into sodium storage in hard carbon anodes using local structure probes, Chemical Communications, 52, 12430 
Allan, P. K., Griffin, J. M., Darwiche, A., Borkiewicz, O. J., Wiaderek, K. M., Chapman, K. W., Morris, A. J.,

Chupas, P. J., Monconduit, L., Grey, C. P., Tracking sodium-antimonide phase transformations in sodium-ion anodes; insights from operando pair distribution function analysis and solid-state NMR, (2016) Journal of the American Chemical Society, 138, 2352

Liu, H, Allan, P. K., Borkiewicz, O. J, Kurtz, C., Grey, C.P., Chapman, K.W., Chupas, P. J., (2016) A Radially-Accessible Tubular In-situ X-ray Cell for Spatially-Resolved Operando Scattering and Spectroscopic Studies of Electrochemical Energy Storage Devices, Journal of Applied Crystallography, 49, 1665

Forse, A. C.; Merlet, C.; Allan, P. K., Humphreys, E. K., Griffin, J. M.; Aslan, M.; Zeiger, M.; Presser, V.;Gogotsi, Y.; Grey, C. P., (2015) New Insights into the Structure of Nanoporous Carbons from NMR, Raman, and Pair Distribution Function Analysis, Chemistry of Materials, 27 (19), 6848

Jung, H.; Allan, P. K.; Hu, Y.-Y.; Borkiewicz, O. J.; Wang, X.-L.; Han, W.-Q.; Du, L.-S.; Pickard, C. J.; Chupas, P. J.; Chapman, K. W.; Morris, A. J.; Grey, C. P., (2015) Elucidation of the Local and Long-Range Structural Changes that Occur in Germanium Anodes in Lithium-Ion Batteries, Chemistry of Materials, 27 (3), 1031 

Allan, P. K.; Chapman, K. W.; Chupas, P. J.; Hriljac, J. A.; Renouf, C. L.; Lucas, T. C. A.; Morris, R. E., (2012) Pair distribution function-derived mechanism of a single-crystal to disordered to single-crystal transformation in a hemilabile metal–organic framework, Chemical Science, 3, 2559

Allan, P. K.; Wheatley, P. S.; Aldous, D.; Mohideen, M.I.; Tang, C.; Hriljac, J.A.; Megson, I.L.; Chapman, K.W.; de Weireld, G.; Vaesen, S.; Morris, R.E., (2012) Metal-organic frameworks for the storage and delivery of biologically active hydrogen sulfide, Dalton Transactions, 41, 4060-4066, doi: 10.1039/C2DT12069K

Horcajada, P.; Gref, R.; Baati, T.; Allan, P.K.; Maurin,G.; Couvreur, P.; Férey, G.; Morris, R.E.; Serre, C., Metal- Organic Frameworks in Biomedicine, (2012), Chemical Reviews, 2012, 112, 1232

Allan, P. K.; Xiao, B.; Teat, S. J.; Knight, J.W.; Morris, R. E., (2010), In Situ Single-Crystal Diffraction Studies of the Structural Transition of Metal-Organic Framework Copper 5-Sulfoisophthalate, Cu-SIP-3. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 132, 3605

Wheatley, P. S.; Allan, P. K.; Teat, S. J.; Ashbrook, S. E.; Morris, R. E., (2010), Task specific ionic liquids for the ionothermal synthesis of siliceous zeolites. Chemical Science, 1, 483-487

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