PhD position - Investigation of Si-based anodes for Li-ion batteries

Context & Job description

Project Title: Investigation of Si-based anodes for Li-ion batteries using X-rays and Neutron 3D/4D imaging techniques

You will join the D50/NeXT team at the ILL. D50/NeXT is an imaging instrument at a high-flux cold neutron guide and also provides x rays via a microfocus tube source for correlative neutron / x-ray imaging experiments (radiography, computed tomography and laminography). The aim of the PhD project is to perform operando characterization of Li-ion battery cells composed of Si/graphite-composite anodes, in representative conditions, via advanced neutron and x-ray imaging techniques and combined with traditional post-mortem/ex situ characterization methods. The scientific program will be conducted in collaboration with CEA (Grenoble) and MCL (Austria). A battery cell for operando measurements at both ESRF and ILL will be designed jointly with CEA while industrially assembled batteries will be manufactured in collaboration with the industrial partner VARTA Micro Innovation GmbH, Austria. The final aim is to provide in-depth understanding of the Si-based cell behaviour at microscopic scales. Working in close collaboration with the ID31 beamline at the ESRF, you will also be able to use operando synchrotron SAXS and WAXS tomography to study the local degradation and ageing inside the cell. You will also develop and apply data evaluation and computational methodologies, including e.g. machine learning algorithms, for enhanced data analysis and statistically relevant 3D data quantification in collaboration with MCL, Austria. The correlative evaluation of the ILL and ESRF experiment results will considerably help us to establish efficient multi-modal characterisation of anodes during cycling, essential for the development of more advanced anode materials.

Further information may be obtained from Lukas HELFEN (tel.: +33 (0)4 57 20 80 89, email: and from Jakub DRNEC (+33 (0)4 76 88 19 16, email:

Expected profile

  • Degree allowing enrolment 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. Knowledge of electrochemistry, would be an advantage.
  • Manual skills and rigorous attention to detail are essential in this work environment
  • Computational and programming skills as well as experience with evaluation of multidimensional data sets would be an asset.
  • 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 eligibility criteria according to the partner university requirements for PhD enrolment.

More details about the application procedure on

Working conditions

The successful candidate will be enrolled in the Physics doctoral school of University Grenoble Alpes, supervised by S. Lyonnard (CEA, Habilitated in Physics) and based full-time at the ILL (Grenoble, France), other than a 3-month secondment at Varta Micro Innovation GmbH, Austria. Additional visits totaling no more than 3 months may be made to the Materials Center Leoben, Austria and to the CEA 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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