New PhD Positions At Paul Scherrer Institute

The Paul Scherrer Institute PSI is the largest research institute for natural and engineering sciences within Switzerland. We perform cutting-edge research in the fields of future technologies, energy and climate, health innovation and fundamentals of nature. By performing fundamental and applied research, we work on sustainable solutions for major challenges facing society, science and economy. PSI is committed to the training of future generations. Therefore, about one quarter of our staff are post-docs, post-graduates or apprentices. Altogether, PSI employs 2200 people.

The direct costs related to corrosion of infrastructures in Europe are estimated at 250 billion EUR annually. Due to the considerable amount of greenhouse gas emissions attributed to the construction sector, large-scale impact can potentially be made by scientific based improvement of technology.

In the framework of a SNSF-funded Sinergia project “PRINCE: PRocesses at the INterface of iron and Cement”, we are looking for several PhD students dedicated to experimental and theoretical studies of Fe-corrosion processes at iron-cement interfaces. The project is jointly implemented at PSI, EMPA, University Bern and ETHZ, and includes laboratory investigations of Fe oxidation kinetics; dissolution/precipitation processes; spectroscopic characterization of corrosion products at international synchrotron facilities (e.g. France, USA, UK); and thermodynamic and reactive transport modelling of these processes, including atomistic and pore scale simulations based on state of the art methods of quantum mechanics and machine learning.

Your tasks

This project comprises several workpackages (WP), each with a primary focus either on laboratory studies or theoretical modelling:

Experimental studies:

  • WP 1(Empa): Nucleation and precipitation kinetics of Fe(II)/Fe(III) minerals
  • WP 2(PSI): Investigations of Fe(II) -> Fe(III) oxidation kinetics in aqueous alkaline media
  • WP 3(Empa): Solubility and thermodynamics of Fe(II)/Fe(III) containing minerals
  • WP 4(PSI): Synchrotron-based characterisation of iron distribution in cement phases
  • WP 5(PSI): Reactive transport studies of diffusive Fe transport in cement

Theoretical modelling:

  • WP 6(UBern): Numerical simulation of Fe transport processes using physical models assisted by Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
  • WP 7(UBern): Atomistic simulations of Fe(II) / Fe(III) uptake by cement phases

Your profile

For experimental workpackages (WPs 1-5):

  • We are looking for motivated students with solid knowledge of inorganic chemistry and advanced analytical characterisation techniques

For modelling workpackages (WPs 6-7):

  • We are looking for motivated students with physical, mathematical or programming skills for numerical simulation of reactive transport processes, atomistic simulations, or machine learning

Knowledge of cement chemistry, electrochemistry and thermodynamics is an asset. The project is highly interdisciplinary, and we welcome applicants with appropriate skill sets coming from a range of disciplinary backgrounds. The main working language of the project is English, and so we are seeking applicants with good proficiency in both written and spoken English.

We offer

Our institution is based on an interdisciplinary, innovative and dynamic collaboration. You will profit from a systematic training on the job, in addition to personal development possibilities and our pronounced vocational training culture. If you wish to optimally combine work and family life or other personal interests, we are able to support you with our modern employment conditions and the on-site infrastructure.

The students working on this project have a real chance to contribute to sustainable technological development in an intellectually lively environment with a world-leading team, and to build up an exclusive research profile in the field of materials sciences with outstanding career opportunities in academic or industrial sectors.

For further information, please contact Herr Prof. Dr Sergey Churakov (PSI/UniBern), phone +41 56 310 41 13, Prof. Barbara Lothenbach (EMPA), +41 58 765 47 88, Dr Nikolaos Prasianakis (PSI), +41 56 310 24 15 or Prof. Ueli Angst (ETHZ), +41 44 633 40 24.

Please submit your application online by 31 January 2024 (including the CV and the study transcripts) for the position as a PhD Student (index no. 4400-00). Please clearly indicate WP you are applying for (WPs 1-7).

Paul Scherrer Institut, Human Resources Management, Serdal Varol, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland

Apply online now

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