Postdoctoral Researcher in Nitrogen Fixation using Plasma Dublin City University, National Centre for Plasma Science and Technology

Research: Centre National Centre for Plasma Science and Technology


Post title: Postdoctoral Researcher: Nitrogen Fixation using Plasma


Level: Level 1


Post duration: Fixed Term Contract up to Three years


Research Career Framework

As part of this role the researcher will be required to participate in the DCU Research
Career Framework This
framework is designed to provide significant professional development opportunities to
researchers and offer the best opportunities in terms of a wider career path.
DCU has a strong record in attracting both Irish and European Union research funding
under Horizon 2020 (and previous Framework Programmes), Marie Curie Actions
and Erasmus. We offer a dynamic and internationally-focused environment in which to
advance your career.

Background & Role

Nitrogen Fixation using Plasmas

Agricultural productivity has increased by around fifty percent in the last century, largely
by the use of nitrate fertilisers. The loss of this food supply would have disastrous
effects in many parts of the world. However, nitrate fertilisers are presently produced by
consuming fossil fuels and emitting greenhouse gases, which practice is also likely to
have unfortunate consequences during the present century. There is therefore a
dilemma, to which the only clear solution is to produce nitrate fertiliser without
greenhouse gas emissions. The process of converting atmospheric nitrogen to nitrate is
known as nitrogen fixation. This project aims to show that nitrogen fixation can be
accomplished using a plasma process on a scale and with an efficiency likely to lead to
a competitive industrial process, however powered by renewable electricity and not fossil

The Project

This basic science project is supported by Science Foundation Ireland and Teagasc (an
agricultural research agency) through the Investigators Programme
( The objective is to
show that an electron beam sustained discharge, with variable electron temperature and
the potential to scale to large volume at atmospheric pressure, can support an efficient
conversion starting from atmospheric gases to produce in the first case nitric oxide, from
which further processing can form a nitrate fertiliser. This will involve fundamental
studies of the chemical behaviour of the plasma, which will be linked to a programme of
modelling. The designed endpoint is to sufficiently understand the basic properties of
the plasma and its chemistry that the potential of this approach to address the dilemma
mentioned above can be clearly seen. A parallel project in Teagasc will explore the
agronomic aspects of this approach.


Principle Duties and Responsibilities

Reporting to his/her PI, this researcher will:

 Taking a leading role in the design, construction and operation of an electron beam
sustained plasma experiment. (Since the electron beam system will be a
commercial device, no special expertise in electron beam technology is needed.)
 Have a strong background in low-temperature plasma physics, with a particular
emphasis on plasma chemistry and electron kinetics
 Be familiar with a wide range of plasma diagnostic techniques, such as optical and
mass spectroscopy
 Be aware of (but not necessarily highly expert in) the techniques involved in
modelling low-temperature plasma
 Participate in the supervision of research students
 Work with researchers in Teagasc in exploring the agricultural aspects of the project
 Contribute to the teaching activities of the School of Physical Sciences, in ways to be
agreed with the Head of the School.
 Engage with appropriate training and development opportunities


Minimum Criteria

Applicants should have a PhD in low-temperature plasma science, with a particular
emphasis on diagnostics and modelling.

Discipline Knowledge & Research skills –Demonstrates the ability to design and/or
implement a substantial programme of research including initiating and leading new
research ideas (for example by using critical judgement and an understanding of
new research methodologies)

Understanding the Research Environment – Demonstrates a thorough
understanding of the research environment both nationally and internationally, the
ability to secure

significant research funding and where relevant the ability to apply for intellectual
property rights and/or patents for their research

Communicating Research – Demonstrates excellence in communicating their
research nationally and internationally (for example by publishing in high quality peer
reviewed journals of international standing and through invitation to participate in
commercial research) and the ability to deliver teaching based on their own research
Managing & Leadership skills – Successfully leads and manages research
programmes including the management and supervision of a small research team and
the financial management of research programmes.


Salary: *€36,854 - €47,728

*Appointments will be commensurate with qualifications and experience and will be made on
the appropriate point of the salary scales, in line with current Government pay policy.


Closing date: 22 March 2018


Informal enquiries to:

Professor Miles Turner, School of Physical Sciences and National Centre for Plasma
Science & Technology, DCU, Dublin 9, Ireland.

E-mail: Phone: +353 (0)1 700 5298

Please do not send applications to this email address, instead apply as described below.

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


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