PhD position - Next-generation aluminium alloys for 3D-printing affordable satellites

Context & Job description

Additive manufacturing (AM) or 3D-printing is leading a paradigm change across several industries. However, the alloys used today for AM are inherited from conventional manufacturing. Constellium is developing Al alloys that exploit the metallurgical conditions of AM, whereas the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) is developing AM process chains for cost-efficient satellite components.

The goal of the PhD project will be to unravel the correlations between alloy composition, 3D microstructure, processing, satellite component geometry and performance. You will join the Nano-Imaging ID16A team at the ESRF. The ID16A instrument is a world-leading X-ray microscopy facility for 3D imaging at the nanoscale of the morphology and the elemental composition of materials.

You will contribute to the development of X-ray nano-tomography methodologies and apply them to the characterization of different AM alloys and processing conditions. You will apply image analysis tools using artificial intelligence methods for the quantification of the microstructural parameters. Samples and components will be produced and mechanically tested at Constellium and DLR. The cross-disciplinary approach will contribute to development of AM optimized alloys, processing conditions and component geometries.

Further information may be obtained from Peter Cloetens (tel.: +33 (0)4 76 88 26 50, email: and from Guillermo Requena (+49 (0) 2203 601-4418, 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 materials science is desirable, and knowledge of 3D image processing would be an advantage
  • Computing and manual skills, as well as 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 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 doctoral school of RWTH-Aachen University and based full-time at the ESRF (Grenoble, France), other than a three-month secondment at Constellium Technology Center (Voreppe, France). Additional visits totaling no more than 3 months will be made to the German Aerospace Centre (DLR, Cologne, Germany) 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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