PhD position - Nanocavitation in Polymer Composites by SAXS/SANS

Context & Job description

Project title: Molecular level understanding of cavity formation upon loading and unloading in cross-linked nanocomposites

You will join ID02’s team at the ESRF. Beamline ID02 is specialised for time-resolved investigations of soft matter and biophysical systems down to the submillisecond range by exploiting the coherence and brightness of the new ESRF-EBS source. It is used to study soft matter such as polymers, liquid crystals and emulsions. It permits nanometre changes in soft matter to be followed on a millisecond timescale. It is a multipurpose high-resolution SAXS/WAXS/USAXS instrument featuring a 34 m detector tube combined with state-of-the-art optics and detectors.

The aim of the PhD project is to understand nanocavitation upon loading and unloading in cross-linked nanocomposites (rubbers) on a molecular level by using in-situ scattering techniques. Cavity formation is the response of the material on localized high level stress which leads to irreversible breakage of polymer chains and in the end to a macroscopic crack propagation and deterioration of the material. Any heterogeneity (imperfection) in the material causes localised viscoelastic deformations and consequently a heterogeneous stress distribution. The novelty of the project will be to study how the phase morphology of different polymer blends (using different filler materials/dispersions and manufacturing conditions) affects the damage mechanisms (cavitation) in the bulk and around a crack tip.

Further information may be obtained from Dr. Michael Sztucki (tel.: +33 (0)4 76 88 28 93, email:, from Dr. Ali Karimi (+49 (0)511 976-30787, email: and from Prof. Dr. Jorge Lacayo-Pineda (+49 (0)511 976-4523), email:


Expected profile

  • Degree allowing enrolment for a PhD (such as MSc, Master 2 de Recherche, Laurea or equivalent) in chemistry or a closely related natural science like physics, materials sciences, nanotechnology, etc. Degrees must have been granted by European universities or already recognised as equivalent.
  • A background in experimentation is desirable, and knowledge of scattering techniques, polymer science as well as programming 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 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 enrollment in a doctoral programme.

More details about the application procedure on

Working conditions

The successful candidate will be enrolled in the doctoral school at University of Hannover (Germany) and based full-time at the ESRF (Grenoble, France), other than a 3-month secondment at Continental Reifen Deutschland GmbH (Hannover, Germany). Additional visits totaling no more than 3 months may be made to the University of Hannover 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.

The equal opportunity policies of the ESRF and ILL have been in place for many years. These policies focus on gender balance, cultural diversity and inclusion of disabled staff.

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