PhD position: Structural characterization of nanoporous carbons by x-ray scattering methods

Different types of sp2-based carbon materials are widely used in several industrial fields like activated carbons in filters, carbide-derived carbons in supercapacitors or pitch-based carbons as electrodes. These carbon materials differ in their microstructure leading to distinct macroscopic properties like electrical conductivity or stiffness. Therefore, a precise characterization of the carbon microstructure on the nanometer scale is essential to correlate it with the materials' properties and thereby optimize the synthesis according to its application. Besides Raman spectroscopy and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), wide-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS) is the most commonly used characterization technique to analyze carbon materials.  The aim of this project is the elucidation of  the microstructure of non-graphitic carbons with a pronounced disorder in the sp2 polyaromatic structure. Such carbon materials feature no crystalline long-range order regarding the stacking  of the graphene layers and exhibit disorder within the 2D graphene lattice, leading to a hindered applicability of standard methods for X-ray diffraction analysis.

The PhD thesis is to further develop a WAXS algorithm invented by Ruland and Smarsly.[1] In particular, the main goal is to develop a mathematical-numerical approaches for the non-linear fitting of the data by suitable model functions. For that, the thesis work will include the development of suitable mathematical regularization algorithms and the development of suitable software adaption. The fitting procedure should then be tested for various carbon materials developed in the group of Prof. Smarsly. Within the thesis work, porous carbons with different porosity and microstructure will be synthesized using templating strategies, which are available in the group. 

[1] W. Ruland, B. Smarsly, J. Appl. Crystallogr. 2002, 35, 624

The research group of Prof. Smarsly is well experienced in the field of the solution-based synthesis of nanomaterials, especially carbon materials and metal oxides. Furthermore, the group has developed novel concepts for the structural characterization of crystalline materials and nanostructure by x-ray scattering and diffraction methods. Throughout the past years, the group always attracts foreign students and postdocs, contributing to an excellent social atmosphere.

The applicant should have a MSc or diploma degree in materials sciences, chemistry or physics and should be proficient in the field of diffraction techniques and solid state physics. Additionally, it is needed that the applicant is experienced in computer programming (C++, C, etc.) and utilizing appropriate software for scientific programming (mathematica, etc.).


Your Doctoral Programme at the International Giessen Graduate Centre for the Life Sciences consists of a 3-year graduate curriculum combined with an experimental project leading to a dissertation. Seminars and courses are conducted in English. Please submit your application using our online application system before !! 06 March, 2015 !!:
Supervision, lab space and personal funding are available.
Please direct any inquiries to

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