PhD position - Polyoxometalates-rich micelles: functionalised mesoporous materials

Context & Job description

Project Title: Polyoxometalates-rich micelles: templating agents for functionalised mesoporous materials

You will join the D11 team at the ILL. D11 is a small angle neutron scattering (SANS) instrument, designed for the study of large scale structures in soft matter systems, chemistry, biology, solid state physics and materials science. The aim of this PhD is the formation of new functional polyion complex (PIC) micelles in solution, and their use as structuring agent in presence of silica to form functionalised mesoporous materials. PIC micelles are obtained via electrostatic complexation between a charged double hydrophilic block copolymer (DHBC) and an oppositely charged polyelectrolyte. The functional DHBC envisaged will comprise a block grafted with polyoxometalates (POMs). POMs are metal anionic nanoclusters with promising properties, especially as catalysts or UV-absorbers. After the material formation, POMs will be hence entrapped within the material porous structure. Combination of SAXS (small angle x-ray scattering) and SANS will permit describing the shape of the micelles in solution, but also the POMs loading within the material and the material synthesis with time. You will start with synthesizing the DHBC, study the phase diagram of the micelles in solution and synthesize mesoporous materials. You will also perform SAXS/SANS studies and exploit the data, in combination with other characterization techniques.

Further information may be obtained from Ralf Schweins (tel.: +33 476 207 091, email:, Corine Gérardin (tel.: +33 (0)4 67 16 34 65, email:   and from Julien Schmitt (+33 (0)4 32 50 09 88, email:

Expected profile

  • Degree allowing enrollment for a PhD (such as MSc, Master 2 de Recherche, Laurea or equivalent) in chemistry, materials science, physics or closely related science
  • A background in soft condensed matter research is desirable, and knowledge of scattering techniques such as light scattering and small-angle neutron and/or x-ray scattering would be an advantage
  • Basic knowledge in organic synthesis and working in chemical labs 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 in the doctoral school of University Montpellier and based full-time at the ILL (Grenoble, France), other than a 3-month secondment at Saint Gobain (Cavaillon, France). Additional visits totaling no more than 3 months may be made to the University Montpellier 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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