PhD position - Operando XAS for deNOx catalysis

Context & Job description

Project Title: Elucidating the deactivation pathways of Cu-zeolite-based industrial DeNOx catalysts by means of X-ray absorption spectroscopy complemented by optical spectroscopies and catalytic tests.

You will join the team of BM23 and ID24 beamlines at the ESRF, in a collaboration project with the University of Turin (Italy) and Umicore, a leading European producer of automotive catalysts. You will work with Cu-exchanged zeolites – novel nanoporous catalysts for abatement of harmful nitrogen oxides from the exhaust fumes of cars, ships and industrial plants. Your goal will be to reveal the mechanisms of their hydrothermal aging and sulphur poisoning, which are the two main processes that lead to deactivation of the catalysts.

Being versatile X-ray absorption spectroscopy beamlines, BM23 and ID24 feature a large variety of complementary techniques and a wide range of sample environment for chemical studies. You will exploit BM23 and ID24 to perform multi-technique spectroscopic experiments in operando conditions. In addition to the synchrotron experiments you will be involved in catalytic tests at Umicore in Denmark, and optical spectroscopy characterization at the University of Turin. The project supervisors have a strong record in  X-ray absorption spectroscopy, catalytic testing, and optical spectroscopy, and therefore, the project is expected to yield major advancements in the chemistry of metal-exchanged zeolites, ensuring your all-round scientific development and providing a solid basis for your future career in academia or industry.

Further information may be obtained from Kirill Lomachenko (tel.: +33-438-88-19-14, email:

Expected profile

  • Degree allowing enrollment for a PhD (such as MSc, Master 2 de Recherche, Laurea or equivalent) in physics, materials science, chemistry or closely related science
  • A strong interest for experimental work is required, knowledge of X-ray absorption spectroscopy would be an advantage
  • Manual skills and rigorous attention to detail are essential in this work environment
  • Proficiency in English (A proof of upper-intermediate level must be included in the application. Applicants originating from native-English-speaking countries can apply without the need for proof of level. An official degree conducted in English will be also accepted as a proof).
  • Compliance with the Marie Sklodowska-Curie mobility rule: candidates may not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in France for more than twelve months in the three years immediately before the date of recruitment.
  • At the date of recruitment, early-stage researchers must be in the first four years of their research careers and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree.
  • Candidates must satisfy the conditions for enrollment in a doctoral programme

More details about the application procedure on

Working conditions

The successful candidate will be enrolled into the PhD Programme in Chemistry and Materials Sciences at the University of Turin and based full-time at the ESRF (Grenoble, France). The project also requires a 3-month secondment at Umicore (Lyngby, Denmark). Additional visits totaling no more than 3 months may be made to the University of Turin when needed. Furthermore, a varied pedagogical training programme will be offered to the successful candidate throughout the 3-year PhD project.

More details on the InnovaXN programme on

Company description

InnovaXN is a Horizon 2020 MSCA COFUND programme providing an opportunity for 40 industrial companies to work with 40 PhD students, performing advanced research and exploiting the unique characterisation techniques of the ESRF and ILL. Through collaborations with industry, innovation will be the central theme of the programme. This will provide a unique cross academic-industry science setting, secondment opportunities and society-relevant research, training the future key researchers able to tackle major research and societal challenges.

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