PhD position - From ink structure to proton exchange membrane fuel cell electrode performance

Context & Job description

Project title: Investigation of manufacturing process related structure and performance of fuel cell electrode thanks to Neutron and X-Ray small angle scattering and imaging

Zero emission automotive using hydrogen as a fuel and powered by a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell are now commercially available. However, large-scale commercialization of PEM fuel cell vehicles requires progress in performance, cost and durability, for which the electrode is the most limiting component.

The aim of the PhD project is to increase the knowledge on the relationships between ink composition, electrode structure, properties and performance. The evolution of the ink during the drying process and the so obtained electrode will be characterized using neutron and X-Ray scattering, as complementary tools to unravel the organization of the catalyst material and of the polymer. By correlating these results with Operando electrochemical, structural and imaging measurements, we aim at rationalizing the design of the electrodes. This project involves partners having all the complementary skills needed for this study of most interest for the industrial partner, which is a leader in the research, development and production of fuel cell cars.

This project will give you the opportunity to prepare, run and exploit measurement campaigns using advanced techniques at ILL and ESRF: small angle-neutron and x-ray scattering, nano X-ray imaging and neutron tomography. Additionally, the partnership with Toyota Motors Europe in this project tangible impact of outcomes.

Further information may be obtained from Lionel Porcar (, tel +33 476 207 025) and from Arnaud Morin (, +33 438 785 986)

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 background in experimentation is desirable, and knowledge of scattering techniques 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 eligibility criteria according to the partner university requirements for PhD enrollment.

More details about the application procedure on

Working conditions

The successful candidate will be enrolled in the doctoral school of  University Grenoble Alpes (France) and based full-time at the ILL (Grenoble, France), other than a 4-month secondment at (Toyota Motors Europe, Belgium). Additional visits will be made to the CEA-LITEN (Grenoble, France) 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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