In-situ surface spectroscopy on cobalt and iron-based flat model catalysts Eindhoven University of Technology, Department of Applied Physics

In-situ surface spectroscopy on cobalt and iron-based flat model catalysts (V34.2920)

The Technical University of Eindhoven is looking for a Post-doctoral researcher: In-situ surface spectroscopy on cobalt and iron-based flat model catalysts.

Position (Post-doctoral) Researcher

Departments Department of Applied Physics

FTE 1,0

Date off 15/07/2017

Reference number V34.2920

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Job description




The Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER), the company Syngaschem BV and the TU/e work together in an industrial-private partnership financed by Syngaschem BV, NWO and the Foundation for fundamental research on matter (FOM). Within the overarching theme of “Electricity to Chemistry, Catalysis for Energy Storage” we investigate novel approaches to use electrical energy, water and CO2 to produce chemicals that are easy to handle and suitable for long term storage. A theme that addresses the current need to efficiently capture and store electricity from sustainable but intermittent sources such as wind and solar power. One topic of study within the program is the fundamental aspects of the conversion of synthesis gas into liquid hydrocarbon fuels via the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis process. Overall, the experimental approach that is taken aims at obtaining more detailed understanding of the reaction mechanism of this complex reaction which serves as input for optimization of the performance of technical catalysts.


Project & Job description


Both cobalt and iron-based catalysts are used on a commercial scale in the production of hydrocarbon products from synthesis gas. The spectroscopic investigations in an ultrahigh vacuum system using well-defined surfaces of cobalt and iron carbides performed in a complementary project will yield detailed insights into the surface chemistry of hydrocarbonaceous species. In reality the situation is however much more complex than these idealized model systems. A working catalyst typically consists of oxide-supported nanoparticles that are covered to a high extent with reactants at typical operating pressures and temperatures. The research in the present project goes beyond the aforementioned studies into the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis reaction by an explicit focus on the surface chemistry on less-ideal flat model catalysts under high reactant pressures. Advanced surface spectroscopy will be employed under these conditions such as infrared spectroscopy using the attenuated-total-reflection (ATR) technique and, more importantly, the nonlinear optical method of broadband sum-frequency generation (SFG). The project will focus on (i) the preparation of flat model systems of Co and Fe by thin film deposition and (ii) the implementation and use of the spectroscopic techniques to determine the composition of the surface under reaction conditions.




The work will be performed in the group Plasma & Materials Processing at the Department of Applied Physics at the TU/e. The PMP group focuses on the advancement of the science and technology of plasma and materials processing, a research area which is in essence multidisciplinary and encompasses the research fields of plasma physics, surface science, and materials science. The scientific objective of the group is to obtain “atomic” level understanding of the interaction of plasmas and gases with materials.


Job requirements


For the postdoc position, we seek a highly talented, enthusiastic, and exceptionally motivated candidate with doctoral degree in (Applied) Physics, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering or similar. He/she must have affinity with physical chemistry with an interest in vacuum equipment and advanced surface spectroscopy. Practical experience in the areas of surface science and (surface) spectroscopy is required. Knowledge about fundamental heterogeneous catalysis and/or nonlinear spectroscopy would be an asset. Good communication skills in English (both written and spoken) are required.


Responsibilities and tasks:

  • Participate in the modification of a high vacuum chamber for surface chemistry studies;
  • Operate and maintain the high vacuum chamber as well as the spectroscopic techniques including an advanced femtosecond laser system;
  • Coordinate and conduct experiments in the field of the proposed research;
  • Preparation of progress reports, scientific papers and conference communications;
  • Daily supervision of Bachelor and M.Sc. students.

Conditions of employment


We offer

  • a full-time appointment for three years;
  • a gross monthly salary between € 3,068 and 4,028 (on a full-time basis), depending on experience and knowledge;
  • a holiday allowance of 8% of the yearly salary;
  • an end-of-year allowance of 8.3% of the annual salary;
  • a broad package of fringe benefits (including moving expenses and excellent sports facilities).

Information and application


Information on the project may be obtained from dr. M. Creatore ( or prof. W.M. M. Kessels (


If you are interested in this position, please send in your application by using the 'Apply now'-button on this page.


Applications should include:


  • A cover letter explaining your motivation and qualifications for the position. Please also indicate specially your experience in the areas of surface science and (surface) spectroscopy.
  • A detailed CV
  • A list of publications and conference contributions
  • Names and contact information of two or more references

Screening of applications will start as soon as applications are received and will continue until the position has been filled.

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Physicaloxy


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