Post-Doctoral position: Tracking plasma- and electrochemical-promoted chemistry

DIFFER is the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research, one of the nine research institutes of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The institute focuses on a multidisciplinary approach to energy research, combining physics, chemistry, engineering and materials science. DIFFER's research takes place in two main themes: Solar Fuels for the conversion and storage of renewable energy and Fusion Energy as a clean and unlimited source of energy. DIFFER develops and supports a national network on fundamental energy research and collaborates closely with the academic community and industrial partners.

Post-Doctoral position: Tracking plasma- and electrochemical-promoted chemistry

Pronounced promotion of chemical conversion processes under the influence of applied electric fields has been demonstrated for catalytic systems (e.g. CO2 conversion; ammonia synthesis from N2 and H2). The development of an in-operando DRIFTS (Diffuse Reflectance Infra-Red Fourier Transform Spectroscopy) cell has allowed the unambiguous identification of surface-bound reaction intermediates. The reaction dynamics conclusively demonstrate that the applied electric field changes the reaction mechanism. The promotion effect of the applied electric field has been likened to that of plasma-activation of reactants. However, similar in-operando measurements in order to quantify plasma-promotion of reactions have not been reported. Additionally, the effect of (surface) charges on the radical production has been highlighted for non-conducting materials such as typical electrocatalytic materials. The Solar Fuels department has the necessary range of expertise in-house, from the technical support facilities through surface science capabilities to the plasma- and electro-chemical promotion of chemical reactions to develop and extend operando optical (both DRIFTS and Raman) spectroscopy beyond current levels and to apply the technique to a wide and more versatile range of reactive systems.

Responsibilities and tasks: 

The research tasks are highly interdisciplinary and will perfectly line up with emerging research lines and granted projects at DIFFER.

  • DRIFTS/Raman cell development and optimization
  • Material preparation - powder or membrane supported catalysts
  • Ex-situ physicostructural characterization
  • Operando DRIFTS/Raman measurements in the presence of plasma and/or electric field.
  • Prepare scientific papers and conference communications.
  • Supervision of bachelor and master students.
  • Contribute to the scientific and collaborative research environment at DIFFER.

We seek enthusiastic candidates that are willing to work in an international and interdisciplinary team of physicists and chemists. The candidate should have a PhD in catalysis; or optical spectroscopy; or surface science; or (high-frequency) plasma physics/chemistry and has preferably post-doc experience. Knowledge in at least two of the following fields is required: IR spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, (electro-)catalysis, gas analysis and materials synthesis, plasma physics/chemistry. Some background in vacuum technology or high-frequency plasmas will be highly appreciated. The successful candidate should have a strong commitment to interdisciplinary research. Good verbal and written communication skills (in English) are mandatory.

Employment conditions: 

Our institute offers a first class and international research environment with various interdisciplinary but related research topics and projects. You will be employed by the NWO institute Foundation for a fixed period of two years. Your salary will be up to a maximum of 4,154 euro gross per month, depending on your level of experience. The salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8 percent and an end-of-year bonus of 8.33 percent. NWO and DIFFER have number of regulations that support employees in finding a good work-life balance. Such as conditions for teleworking, partly paid parental leave and the possibility to purchase and sell holiday leave. General information on working at NWO can also be found at the NWO website (

Further information: 

The 'NWO job interview code' applies to this position. DIFFER strives to achieve a diverse workforce to develop talent and creativity by bringing together different perspectives. As such we encourage applications from women and minorities. Further information on the vacancy is available through, Dr M. Gleeson, e-mail: m [368] a [368] gleeson [28] differ [368] nl and the websites of the involved DIFFER groups:, or

Application procedure: 

In case you are interested you can apply by submitting an application letter, a grade list and full resume. Please refer to vacancy 18.015. The letter of application and other documents may be sent electronically as single PDF-files (in the following format lastname_appl.letter, lastname_CV, etc), to vacancies [28] differ [368] nl

Closing date: 
Thursday, November 15, 2018
Vacacany number: