PhD scholarship in Fundamental Understanding of Electrolytic O2 Evolution in Alkaline Environment

Sunday 20 Dec 20

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Apply no later than 10 February 2021
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We offer a 3-year PhD position to carry out research on the fundamental understanding of the O2 evolution reaction (OER) in alkaline environment (AE) by means of in-operando Raman and X-ray Spectroscopy.

The Section of Electrochemistry at DTU Energy carries out research on electrochemical conversion and storage technologies, such as fuel cells, electrolysis cells, flow batteries, and novel types of electrochemical cells for power to X. Our research spans from fundamental understanding of electrochemical materials and processes to fabrication of lab scale components and devices and testing using advanced electrochemical characterization methods and test stations. We work in close collaboration with other Sections within the Department of Energy Conversion and Storage, expanding our capacity for materials processing, microstructural characterization, and modelling.

Electrolysis is a key technology for transitioning to a 100% sustainable energy system, as it both enables cost effective and large scale storage of intermittent renewable electricity and provides the means for the production of sustainable fuels and chemicals. Alkaline electrolysis is the most mature and low cost amongst electrolysis technologies, but requires a boost in efficiency and production rate to further lower the price of hydrogen produced to a level that can compete with fossil fuel derived hydrogen. Understanding and fine-tuning the kinetics for OER in AE is expected to contribute greatly in this direction, and forms the main goal of this PhD project.

Responsibilities and tasks
At DTU Energy we are developing electrocatalysts, electrodes, and membranes for advanced alkaline electrolysis cells. We do so by striving for fundamental understanding of the underlying processes that will help guide progress in a rational manner.

This is the philosophy underpinning also this PhD project, where we aspire to expand the traditional approach of electrocatalyst development to incorporate also the influence of the electrolyte on the electrified solid-liquid interface. Through systematic variation of catalyst, electrolyte, and operational parameters influencing the OER kinetics and catalyst stability, and by employing advanced operando spectro-electrochemical tools you will attempt to reveal new knobs that can be tuned to control OER activity and stability, leading to optimized OER kinetics in AE.

  • You will synthesize, characterize and carry out detailed electrochemical testing of selected OER catalysts in AE under varying operative conditions, with emphasis on assessing OER kinetics and catalyst stability.
  • You will be responsible for the design, commissioning, and qualification of a holder customized for the needs of operando Raman measurements under accurate electrochemical control.
  • You will design and carry out operando spectro-electrochemical experiments using our Raman spectrometer and at synchrotron X-ray beamlines.
  • You will work in close collaboration with our partners from Peter Gruenberg Institute 6 at Juelich, Germany who will guide the synchrotron X-ray work, based on their expertise in X-ray and electron spectroscopy instrumentation as operators of both soft and hard X-ray beamlines at three synchrotron facilities; BESSY II, ELETTRA, and DESY.
  • You will be required to travel to Germany and other synchrotron facilities in relation to the X-ray spectroscopy experiments.
  • Your PhD position is embedded within a larger project, including also a PostDoc Researcher who will start at approx. the same time as you and carry out research on a closely related topic. The project will also benefit from interactions with the Theoretical inorganic chemistry group (Teoroo) at Uppsala University, who are exploring the dynamic phenomena occurring at the electrified solid-liquid interface through multiscale simulations.
  • Your work will built upon a broad knowledge base on electrochemistry and specialized holder design in the Department, and benefit from our well-equipped and diverse labs and a spirit of knowledge sharing and collaboration within the Department.
  • You are expected to take a leading role in the scientific and practical gearing of your project, proposing the most appropriate way forward, establishing an action and time plan in line with the overall project timeline, and coordinating the required work in the most efficient and productive way possible.

Qualifications
Candidates should have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree. in e.g. Physics, Materials Science, or Physical Chemistry.

As an appropriate candidate you are:

  • Highly motivated and enthusiastic about the research topic
  • Responsible, sincere, and forthcoming
  • Driven by challenges, forward looking, and pro-active
  • Able to work independently as well as within a team
  • Excited to be part of a dynamic multi-disciplinary group
  • Able to plan and carry out complicated tasks, and to pursue parallel paths
  • Able to accommodate in your planning time boundaries imposed by the overall project goals
  • Good at communicating and reporting your work in both written and spoken English

Documented experience in one or more of the following specific areas is required:

  • Electrochemical characterization
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Chemical synthesis, Electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and other structural and chemical analysis techniques
  • Alkaline electrolysis cells or other type of electrochemical cells employing liquid electrolytes

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.

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.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Senior Scientist Christodoulos Chatzichristodoulou; ccha@dtu.dk, tel.: +45 21325057

Head of Section Lars Nilausen Cleemann; lncl@dtu.dk 

You can read more about the Department of Energy Conversion and Storage at www.energy.dtu.dk/english

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark.

Application procedure
Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 10 February 2021 (Danish 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)
  • Optional list of publications

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

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

The Department of Energy Conversion and Storage is focused on education, research, and development within functional materials and their application in sustainable energy technologies. In a sustainable energy system a large part of the energy will be supplied by fluctuating sources such as solar and wind power. This makes it critically important to be able to convert and store the energy as needed. The researchers in the Department of Energy Conversion and Storage work on technologies and materials for direct conversion and subsequent storage of different forms of energy.

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 12,000 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. Our main campus is in Kgs. Lyngby north of Copenhagen and we have campuses in Roskilde and Ballerup and in Sisimiut in Greenland.