PhD scholarship in Direct Laser Writing of Pyrolytic Carbon Microelectrodes

DTU Nanolab
Thursday 11 Apr 19

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We are looking for a talented PhD candidate to join the project ‘Pyrolytic Hierarchical Organic Electrodes for sustaiNable Electrochemical Energy Systems (PHOENEEX)’, which is funded by an European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant.

The overall vision of PHOENEEX is to develop a miniaturised biobattery. For this purpose, we will investigate novel approaches for the fabrication of 3D carbon microelectrodes (3DCMEs) with highly tailored material properties, large surface area and hierarchical architecture using pyrolysis. In this process, patterned polymer precursors are exposed to high temperatures (> 900 °C) in inert atmosphere (N2 or Ar) and converted into pyrolytic carbon. We will apply the 3DCMEs to i) considerably improve the efficiency of energy harvesting in microbial fuel cells and ii) enhance temporal storage of the harvested energy in microsupercapacitors. In this context, you will work in close collaboration with several researchers in an interdisciplinary team.

We are based at DTU Nanolab, where we conduct cross-disciplinary research and apply micro- and nanotechnology to a wide range of scientific disciplines and applications. The Biomaterial Microsystems group is a highly ambitious group, pursuing research on microfabrication of 3D polymer and carbon structures and devices and their application in drug delivery, bioelectrochemistry and biosensing.

Responsibilities and tasks
For fabrication of pyrolytic carbon microelectrodes, polymer template structures have to be placed on a carrier substrate (e.g. Si or Quartz) which has to be stable at elevated temperatures. This is a major limitation due to high costs, low design flexibility and low sustainability in particular for the fabrication of disposable devices. Furthermore, the pyrolysis at high temperatures is not a very sustainable process.

Your main contribution will be the development of novel methods to fabricate 3D pyrolysed carbon microelectrodes on polymer substrates. Among other possible approaches, you will evaluate direct laser writing of pyrolytic carbon electrodes. For this purpose, you will need to investigate the interaction of laser light with polymers.

Furthermore, the structural, electrical and electrochemical properties of the carbon materials will be characterized and optimized. Finally, the performance of the carbon microelectrodes will be evaluated in bioelectrochemical applications.

We expect that you:

  • embrace the responsibility to plan and execute experimental research
  • are interested in material science and microfabrication and are eager to explore new research areas
  • ideally have experience with carbon materials or electrochemistry
  • have excellent engineering skills and an analytical mindset
  • are motivated to contribute to technology enabling sustainable energy
  • like teamwork and have the ability to interact and collaborate with researchers and laboratory technicians in a very cross-disciplinary environment
Candidates should have a master's degree in chemistry, material science, engineering, electronics or physics or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree in engineering.

The PhD project will be very interdisciplinary and the candidate is expected to have the interest to explore new applications of carbon-based materials. A high grade average is decisive to be considered for the scholarship.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.   

The assessment of the applicants will be made by Associate Professor Stephan Sylvest Keller (DTU Nanolab).  

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

The microfabrication will be carried out at DTU Lyngby Campus at DTU Nanolab. Through the ERC grant, a new laboratory – the PHOENEEX lab - will be established providing the infrastructure necessary to conduct the research in this ambitious project.

You can read more about
career paths at DTU here

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Associate Professor Stephan Sylvest Keller,, tel.: +45 4525 5846.

You can read more about DTU Nanolab and the Biomaterial Microsystems group at

More information on the framework of the
ERC Consolidator Grant here

Please submit your online application no later than 25 April 2019 (local time)Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include: 
  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)
Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree, but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Nanolab is a common infrastructure and research facility located at and fully owned by the Technical University of Denmark, DTU. The core facilities consist of a large cleanroom and a state-of-the-art electron microscopy center inaugurated in 2007. The research activities carried out at DTU Nanolab span from nano- and microfabrication with Silicon-based materials, carbon and polymers to the highly sophisticated analysis of nanoscale materials in hard and soft matter. Since 2018, DTU Nanolab is extended to provide expertise in soft matter from small molecule complexes to biological cells.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and 
scientific advice. Our staff of 6,000 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society, and our 11,200 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government and public agencies.