Post-Doctoral position: Making fuel from ambient air

DIFFER is the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research, one of the nine research institutes of the Netherlands Organization 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.

Post-Doctoral position: Making fuel from ambient air

Based on very promising preliminary results, obtained with model low-performance photoanodes, we aim to expand the concept to state-of-the-art photoelectrodes that can be scaled up. The source of our inspiration is the latest conventional PEC cell strategies which however cannot be directly applied in air based PEM-PEC operation.

Scientific aim: 

The prospect of solar hydrogen as a sustainable energy source is the driving force for the steady progress toward efficient water splitting materials. While current systems run on liquid water, the idea of using water contained in ambient air in a solar water splitting device is very appealing. Capturing water from the air implies that no liquid water is needed for operation, making it a water-neutral process. This potentially enables the construction of free-standing devices, in areas which don’t usually have a nearby water supply i.e. near to roads or remote areas. Deleterious effects associated with bubble formation in aqueous medium can be avoided in gas phase operation. The maintenance costs can be decreased as the possibility of corrosion and poisoning is reduced, there is no need of replenishing the electrolyte and utilizing liquid pumping systems. The high potential of this approach has been our main incentive for seeking of an appropriate PEC cell design that can accommodate such air-based operation. Inspired by the polymeric electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysers, we have developed a novel solid-state PEM-PEC cell, where the two electrochemical half-reactions are separated by the solid electrolyte. In this design the hydrogen generation and water dissociation are taking place in different compartments meeting the air-based operation requirements.

Based on very promising preliminary results, obtained with model low-performance photoanodes, we aim to expand the concept to state-of-the-art photoelectrodes that can be scaled up. The source of our inspiration is the latest conventional PEC cell strategies which however cannot be directly applied in air based PEM-PEC operation.

Responsibilities and tasks: 

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

  • Top down nanostructuring of electrode substrates with electrochemical methods
  • Wet chemical deposition of low band gap photoabsorbers and co-catalysts
  • Functionalization of photoelectrodes with spray coating techniques
  • Assembling and characterizing solid state photoelectrochemical cells (LSV, EIS)
  • Physico- chemical- and structural material characterization (UV-Vis, XRD, XPS, SEM)
  • Run and optimize a prototype PEC cell for outdoor operation
  • Prepare scientific papers and conference communications.
  • Contribute to the scientific and collaborative research environment at DIFFER.
Qualifications: 

We seek enthusiastic candidates that are willing to work in an international and interdisciplinary team of physicists, chemists and material scientists. The candidate should have a PhD in photoelectrochemical cells, or electrochemistry or material science and has preferably post-doc experience. Knowledge in at least two of the following fields is required: photoelectrochemistry, materials science and polymeric electrolyte membranes. 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 4,237 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 (www.nwo-i.nl).

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. Tsampas, e-mail: m [368] tsampas [28] differ [368] nl and CEPEA website www.differ.nl/research/cepea and the Working at DIFFER webpage: https://www.differ.nl/working-at

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 18.017. 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: 
Monday, November 19, 2018
Vacacany number: 
18.017