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One opening Early Stage Researcher (PhD) position in Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Physics within the Marie-Sklodowska Curie ITN CATCHY "Design of novel thermo- and electrocatalysts for the conversion of CO2 into fuels "

   Department of Physics and Astronomy

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  Prof Peter Lievens, Dr Didier Grandjean  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

We are seeking the ESR 8 of our recently funded Marie Sklodowska Curie-ITN CATCHY project on the “Design, implementation and production upscaling of novel, high-performance, multimetallic cluster-based catalysts for CO2 hydrogenation and electroreduction”.

Candidates should have (or be about to obtain) a master degree in Chemistry, Physical chemistry, Physics or a closely related subject, be enthusiastic about experimental research, and ideally have a background in one or more of the following fields: physical chemistry, nanomaterial science, catalysis, electrochemistry, XAFS spectroscopy, electron microscopy. The successful candidate will have obtained excellent grades both in his/her Bachelor and Master degrees.

The ESR 8 at the Quantum Solid State Physics group at the Department of Physics and Astronomy of KU Leuven will be in charge of the production and the characterization of series of mass-selected bi- and multimetallic clusters deposited on different substrates. This activity includes optimization and control of production (composition, size) and deposition (substrates) parameters using the UHV cluster deposition setup, as well as the cluster morphology (following cluster surface interaction) by means of scanning probe microscopy techniques (AFM and STM), XPS, SEM and TEM on selected samples.

He/She will participate to the X-ray absorption measurements at the Swiss Light Source at our PSI partner in Switzerland and at the ESRF synchrotron facility, Grenoble, France, and contribute to the analysis of the data. In parallel he/she will complete his investigation by testing the catalytic activity and selectivity of cluster-modified electrodes by voltammetry and impedance spectroscopy in cells. He/She will be trained on cluster decorated electrodes and theoretical modelling during three periods of 1-2 months of mobility (secondment) at our VITO and BME partners .

We offer a full time PhD position. A PhD at KU Leuven typically takes 4 years, where the contract is renewed yearly after positive evaluation. The starting date should ideally be September 2021, or before November 2021. For questions about the profile and the description of duties, please contact Prof. Peter Lievens (peter.lievens @

Please check the employment conditions and apply online below before July 15th, 2021.

For a more detailed description of the Catchy project, the individual positions and to apply online please visit us at More information on this vacancy :

Employment conditions

  • The successful candidates will receive an attractive salary in accordance with the MSCA regulations for Early Stage Researchers. The exact (net) salary will be confirmed upon appointment and is dependent on local tax regulations and on the country correction factor (to allow for the difference in cost of living in different EU Member States). The salary includes a living allowance, a mobility allowance and a family allowance (if applicable). The guaranteed PhD funding is for 36 months (i.e. EC funding, additional funding could be possible depending on the local Supervisor and in accordance with the regular PhD time in the country of employment). More information at:
  • Eligible candidates may be of any nationality but must not, at the time of recruitment have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc) in the country of their host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 last years immediately prior to the reference date.
  • Candidates must be, at the time of recruitment by the host organisation, in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree. This is measured from the date when they obtained the Master degree which would formally entitle them to embark on a doctorate within Catchy.
  • Each ESR will have to make at least one secondment (temporary research exchange to another Catchy partner) for a total period varying from 4 to 6 months during the duration of his/her employment.
  • Each ESR is expected to participate actively in the network tasks and organization of training/network events as well as in regular yearly Outreach Activities targeting different audiences.
  • Good use of English language (including both written and oral fluency) is essential
  • Recruitment, selection, appointments follow the European Charter & Code of Conduct ( All Catchy partners commit themselves to provide equal opportunities for male & female ESRs.