PhD position - Advanced diffraction methods for characterization of li-ion battery materials

Context & Job description

Li-ion batteries have revolutionised energy storage with applications spanning electronics, electric vehicles, aerospace and grid scale storage; understanding how they perform, degrade and fail is critical, particularly in demanding applications such as automotive. The aim of the PhD project is to utilize high-speed diffraction and high spatial resolution diffraction tomography to understand the degradation processes occurring over extended cycling in novel Li-ion batteries.

You will join ID15A’s team at the ESRF. ID15A is a versatile instrument optimised for the rapid acquisition of multidimensional X-ray diffraction (XRD) data on working chemical reactors, novel batteries and other systems of interest to the chemical and energy sectors .

You will develop methods to rapidly map the chemical and crystallographic changes associated with charge cycling, to identify the role of temperature, current and voltage in driving degradation modes.

Working in partnership with the Electrochemical Innovation Laboratory at UCL and Johnson Matthey, you will proactively translate these new methods to industry, providing new benchmarks to evaluate cathode materials, and understand their operation and degradation behaviour

Further information may be obtained from Paul Shearing (+44) 207 679 3783 email: and Marco Di Michiel (tel.: +33 (0)4 76 88 21 23, email:

Expected profile

  • Degree allowing enrolment for a PhD (such as MSc, MEng, Master 2 de Recherche, Laurea or equivalent) in engineering, physics, materials science, chemistry or closely related science
  • A background in experimentation is desirable, and knowledge of materials characterisation and electrochemical technologies is desriable
  • Strong practical and experimental skills and rigorous attention to detail are essential in this work environment
  • Proficiency in English  (A proof of upper-intermediate level would be advantageous and can be provided 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; Students without proof upper-intermediate level may still apply and their level of English will be checked during the interview.)
  • 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 enrolment in UCL’s doctoral programme

More details about the application procedure on

Working conditions

The successful candidate will be enrolled in the doctoral school of University College London and based at the ESRF (Grenoble, France), other than 10-month secondment at Johnson Matthey and at University College London 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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