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ECoProbe- Visualizing Energy Conversion Pathways
The section for Imaging and Structural Analysis (ISA) in the Department of Energy Conversion and Storage at the Technical University of Denmark is seeking a candidate for a PhD position as part of a Danish Research Council project on in-operando scanning probe microscopy on electrochemical cells for energy applications.

DTU Energy Conversion is among the world’s leaders in the research and development of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), electrolysis cells (SOECs) and other energy conversion technologies. DTU Energy Conversion has cutting edge facilities and competences for fabrication, testing and characterisation of energy conversion technologies.

The PhD project will be conducted in close collaboration with the Center for Nanophase Materials Science at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (USA) who is at the forefront of development of advanced in-operando SPM techniques.

Project aims
Solid oxide fuel/electrolysis cells (SOFC/SOEC) will play an important role in future efficient and environmentally friendly energy systems if a better long term performance of the cells can be achieved. Impressive performance improvements have recently been reported for cells with specific multiphase nano-structures, but structural and compositional nano-scaled changes can lead to deactivation. The dynamics of the critical structures are not understood, and further studies are hampered since there are no available methods which offer in situ characterization of operating cells with nano-scale spatial resolution.

The aim of ECoProbe is to create the basis for in-operando localized probing of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) and electrolysis cells (SOECs) with unprecedented spatial resolution by extending the limits of our novel unique instrumentation for controlled atmosphere high temperature scanning probe microscopy (CAHT-SPM) and combining it with ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (AP-XPS) for the first time.

This synergistic methodological approach will provide 1) direct probing of the local electric potential distribution and 2) mapping of the microstructure and surface chemical composition in operating solid oxide cells (SOCs). ECoProbe will thus unravel the complex electrode processes and degradation mechanisms observed in today’s SOCs.

Job description
As a PhD student at DTU Energy Conversion you will be part of the ISA team, but also interacting regularly with other researchers within the Department and researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The PhD position has a multidisciplinary nature and thus you will need to draw on the knowledge of several experts to reach the project aims. You will be primarily engaged with carrying out in-operando CAHT-SPM on real SOEC and SOFC under varying operating conditions so as to visualize different activation/deactivation and degradation mechanisms in action at selected locations in the cell and to measure the time evolution of the electric potential distribution within the electrode, which is anticipated to lie at the heart of the different degradation patterns.

A multiplicity of advanced scanning modes will be employed to establish the link between local chemical, microstructural, and corresponding electrochemical phenomena responsible for the observed activation/deactivation and degradation phenomena.


  • Master degree in Material Science, Physics, Chemistry or similar.
  • Experience with experimental laboratory work, for instance scanning probe microscopy, electron microscopy and electrochemistry is preferable.
  • Good communication skills in English, both written and spoken.
  • Ability to work independently, to plan and carry out complicated tasks, to perform delicate hands-on experimental work as well as theoretical based data analysis and for self-motivation in scientific research
  • Ability to collaborate within a multi-national, multi-partner network and to be part of a dynamical multi-disciplinary group

We offer
We offer an interesting and challenging job in an international environment focusing on education, research, public-sector consultancy and innovation, which contribute to enhancing the economy and improving social welfare.  We strive for academic excellence, collegial respect and freedom tempered by responsibility. The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is a leading technical university in northern Europe and benchmarks with the best universities in the world.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes of DTU. For information about the general requirements for enrolment and the general planning of the scholarship studies, please see the PhD guide.

Salary and appointment terms
Salary and appointment terms are consistent with the current rules for PhD degree students in Denmark.

The period of employment is 3 years and the place of work is at DTU Energy Conversion on Risø Campus.

The start date is 1 January 2015 but can be negotiated within a small time margin.

Further Information
Applicants are welcome to contact the project supervisors Dr. Karin Vels Hansen karv@dtu.dk and Professor Mogens Bjerg Mogensen momo@dtu.dk for further information.

General information about the Department is available at http://ecs.dtu.dk

We must have your online application by 30 September 2014. Material received after this date will not be considered. Please open the link "apply online", complete the application form and attach the following mandatory documents:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc and MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and excel spreadsheet here)

Job interviews will be scheduled within two weeks after the application deadline.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, inability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and public service. Our staff of 5,700 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society; and our 10,000 students are educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government, and public agencies.

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