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PhD in physical chemistry: operando spectroscopy on IrOx and RuOx electrocatalysts

Vacancy number
Function type
PhD positions
Hours (in fte)
External/ internal
Placed on
23 June 2020
Closing date
15 August 2020

One day left to apply

The Faculty of Science and the Leiden Institute of Chemistry are looking for a

PhD in physical chemistry: operando spectroscopy on IrOx and RuOx electrocatalysts 

Project description
Splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis is an excellent way to store electrical energy from intermittent sources like wind and solar energy in chemical bonds. While it is one of the simplest reactions possible, a variety of processes occurs at the surface of the electrodes. At the oxygen-evolving side, the applied potential does not only drive the catalytic cycle, but may also oxidize and (slowly) dissolve the electrode. In addition, the distribution of ions and water in the near-surface electrolyte will change drastically. The overall activity and stability of oxygen evolution is determined by the combination of all of these processes. Therefore, we want to understand what the electrode-electrolyte interface looks like under reaction conditions. In your project, you will test new spectroelectrochemical cells for Raman and X-ray absorption spectroscopy that bring this goal within reach. In collaboration with the group of prof. Marc Koper (Leiden University), you will use Raman spectroscopy to characterize the bonding of ions and adsorbates on some of the most active oxygen evolution reaction catalysts, IrOx and RuOx. X-ray absorption spectroscopy will provide you with a chemical fingerprint for every element at the electrode-electrolyte interface to complement this bonding picture. You will perform these measurements at the BESSY and NSRRC synchrotrons in collaboration with the groups of Axel Knop-Gericke (Fritz Haber Institute, Berlin), Ralph Krähnert (TU Berlin) and Chenghao Chuang (Tamkang University, Taipei). To support your measurements, you will have access to the excellent preparation and characterization facilities at the Leiden Institute of Chemistry.

Selection criteria
We are looking for a highly motivated candidate, who has:

  • a Master’s degree in Chemistry or Physics, or related disciplines;
  • A strong interest in spectroscopy and/or electrochemistry;
  • Excellent proficiency in English;

The candidate should feel comfortable working in a collaborative environment with complex experiments. Initiative, creativity and an independent working attitude are highly valued. Experience with vacuum equipment, Raman spectroscopy and/or electrochemistry is considered an advantage.

Our organisation
The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are committed to expand fundamental knowledge by curiosity and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organized in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programs. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 1,300 staff and almost 4,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

The chemistry and life science research in the Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC) is organized around two major research areas: ‘Chemical Biology’ and ‘Energy & Sustainability’. The institute’s research themes illustrate the central position of chemistry between biology, medicine and physics. The various research topics carried out within these themes are ideal for executing interdisciplinary research.

Terms and conditions
We offer a position for initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities, and compatibility, the appointment will be extended by a further three years. Salary range from € 2,325 to € 2,972 gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science. Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness.

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Enquiries can be made to Rik Mom, email r.v.mom@lic.leidenuniv.nl. If you have any questions about the procedure, please contact secretary Jessica van Krimpen-Kraaijenoord, email j.e.van.krimpen@lic.leidenuniv.nl.

To apply for this vacancy, please send an email j.e.van.krimpen@lic.leidenuniv.nl. Please ensure that you quote the vacancy number and include the following documents in your application:

  • A letter of motivation;
  • An updated CV;
  • A copy of your MSc thesis or any other publication (if available);
  • The transcripts of your MSc studies and a copy of your degree;
  • At least two references, including names, affiliations and email addresses.

Only applications received no later than 15th of August, 2020 can be considered.

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