Post-Doctoral Research Associate - in Energy Materials
Diamond Light Source
Postdoctoral position in modulated excitation methods for net-zero and clean growth
This PDRA position is part of the International Science Partnerships Fund (ISPF) programme between Diamond Light Source and the ISIS Neutron and Moun Source in the UK, and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Switzerland.
Diamond Light Source is the UK’s national synchrotron science facility, placed at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire. By accelerating electrons to near light-speed, Diamond generates brilliant beams of light from infra-red to X-rays which are used for academic and industry research and development across a range of scientific disciplines including structural biology, physics, chemistry, materials science, engineering, earth, and environmental sciences.
The ISIS Neutron and Muon Source is a world-leading centre for research in the physical and life sciences, and it is located in close proximity to Diamond. This large-scale science facility generates beams of neutrons and muons for use as experimental probes of materials structure and dynamics, over atomic to macroscopic length scales, via a suite of highly specialised instrumentation and support laboratories.
The Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), is the largest research institute for natural and engineering sciences within Switzerland, located in the Canton of Aargau. The institute conducts cutting-edge research in the fields of future technologies, energy and climate, health innovation and fundamentals of nature. By performing fundamental and applied research, the institute works towards delivery of sustainable solutions for the major challenges facing society, science, and the economy.
About the Role
We have a 36-month PDRA position available that will focus on the development and exploitation of the modulated excitation approach using X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), X-ray emission spectroscopy (XES) and neutron total scattering for the study of chemical processes. The PDRA will work across the beamlines in the Spectroscopy Group at Diamond (I20, B18 and I18), the light element diffractometers of the Disordered Materials Group (NIMROD and SANDALS) at ISIS, and the spectroscopy beamlines at the Swiss Light Source, the synchrotron facility at the PSI. Although primarily based in the UK, it is expected that the successful candidate will spend extended stays at the PSI facility in Switzerland.
The scientific goals of the project are targeted at challenges in the net zero and clean growth thematic area, and in-particular carbon capture and utilization. An exemplar system for study will be the electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR), enabling conversion of greenhouse gas CO2 into value-added products. Copper based electrocatalysts will be the focus of this study: nanostructured copper as well as bimetallic Cu-Zn and Cu-Fe. The goal of this project is to determine the mechanism of the reaction by identifying the active species and rationalize the differences in efficiency and selectivity towards CO2 reduction products of the different electrocatalysts. As the reaction occurs within a thin interface at the electroactive surface, bulk techniques are unsuitable for identification of the active species. Using modulated excitation, the sensitivity of the experimental techniques is greatly enhanced and focussed purely on the chemically active sites within the experimental probe volume. The successful candidate will also be encouraged to develop their own research ideas and proposals within this thematic area and to expand the methodology further at the three facilities.
The successful candidate will work on developing the sample environment that is necessary for following the relevant electrochemical reactions for carbon capture and reutilization using XAS, XES and neutron scattering, and on establishing a robust experimental framework and associated analysis protocols. Once developed, this methodology can be extended to other catalytic systems, increasing the capability of the X-ray and neutron instrumentation to determine the structure-function relationships which is needed to aid the development of new and improved catalysts.
The successful candidate will have a Science Degree and an appropriate PhD and proven relevant experience in a related field. You should have proven experience with synchrotron experiments, and detailed knowledge of at least one relevant technique and broad knowledge of the other (i.e. spectroscopy and neutron diffraction). Experience or knowledge of the research area outlined in the project description is essential. You will be highly motivated and willing to actively develop their own research ideas and proposals. The successful candidate will have good interpersonal, communication and presentational skills to interact with a range of colleagues and stakeholders.
Diamond offers an exceptional benefits package to support staff in achieving a positive work/life balance. This includes 26 days annual leave plus Christmas closure, public holidays, 2 annual volunteering days and flexible working hours. We also offer an excellent defined benefit pension scheme. Staff also have access to a range of amenities on site including a nursery, cafes, a restaurant and sports and leisure facilities. A relocation allowance may also be available where applicable.
Please use the online application process to apply and tell us why you believe you are suitable for this role.
The initial closing date for applications is 3rd March 2024, however applications will be reviewed and interviewed on an ongoing basis until this vacancy is filled.