PhD Positions in Experimental Surface Science for Catalysis by Single Atoms and Dimers

Technical University of Denmark



The positions are funded by the Carlsberg Foundation. The overarching aim of this project is to Establish new fundamental insight into the catalytic activity of single atoms and dimers. Specifically, the project focuses on two reactions where lack of selectivity is a major hindrance namely:

  • Hydrogen peroxide formation
  • CO2 reduction.
The positions are at SurfCat which is also leading the “The Villum Center for the Science of Sustainable Fuels and Chemicals” (V-SUSTAIN), at the Department of Physics at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). Here we enjoy a social, open and transparent scientific environment. The students will be able to take full advantage of the large number of personnel working in adjacent fields of investigation, from surface science on single crystals to the testing of high surface area catalysts in reactors.

The positions will be focused on synthesis, characterization and testing of single atoms and dimer catalysts using state-of-the-art in-house facilities or synchrotrons at SLAC or Lund. Specifically: 
  1. Well-controlled single atom and dimer catalysts will be prepared using a UHV-compatible magnetron-based cluster source with time-of-flight mass filter.
  2. Samples will be characterized in detail using e.g. STM, TEM, XPS, ISS to probe dispersity and chemical state of the prepared single atom and dimer catalysts. Synchrotron experiments, specifically EXAFS for dispersion and the number and nature of neighboring atoms, ideally in situ.
  3. Samples will be tested for both electrochemical and thermal heterogeneous catalytic activity and selectivity. The activity testing will rely on both traditional electrochemical setups but also a newly developed membrane electrochemical chip coupled to a mass spectrometer for detection of product molecules in real time. Similarly, for thermal catalytic testing a specially designed micro-reactor coupled to a mass spectrometer will be used.
The work will rely heavily on a close collaboration between theory and experiment, where computational screening may identify the most promising catalysts. It will therefore be in collaboration with theory groups at e.g. DTU and Copenhagen University. 

When applying please indicate a possible earliest starting date. Notice candidates first finalizing their master summer 2019 may also apply now.

The successful candidates will have obtained excellent grades in his/her Bachelor and Masters degrees. He/she should also be well-motivated, hardworking and willing and able to work as part of a team. Candidates for the PhD positions should have a Masters’ degree in Physics, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering or Materials Science by the time they commence the project.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes of DTU, for example in Mathematics, Physics and Informatics. For information about the general requirements for enrolment and the general planning of the scholarship studies, please see the DTU PhD Guide

We Offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and Appointment Terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union.  

The PhD positions are for 3 years and the PhD thesis must be delivered during this period. The positions are available from August 2019 or later.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.  

Further Information
For further information about the research at SurfCat at the Department of Physics at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) please inspect   

Should you have any queries regarding the positions, please contact Associate Professor Jakob Kibsgaard,

Please submit your online application no later than 15 July 2019 (local time). Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include: 
  • A cover letter motivating the application. (Max one page)
  • A curriculum vitae
  • Copies of BSc and MSc degree diplomas
  • Mandatory excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here
  • Names and e-mail addresses or telephone numbers of 2 references.
Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 6,000 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society, and our 11,200 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government and public agencies

In your application, please refer to