SOLEIL Synchrotron

Post-doctoral position : Operando X-ray and IR spectroscopies for the study of water oxidizing electrocatalysts

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SOLEIL is the French national synchrotron facility, located on the Saclay Plateau near Paris. It is a multi-disciplinary instrument and research laboratory whose mission is to conduct research using synchrotron radiation, to develop cutting edge instrumentation on the beamlines, and to make these developments available to the scientific community. SOLEIL synchrotron, a unique tool for both academic research and industrial applications across a wide range of disciplines including physics, biology, chemistry etc., opened in 2008. It is used annually by thousands researchers from France and abroad. SOLEIL is based on a synchrotron source that is state-of-the-art both in terms of brilliance and stability. This large scale facility, a partner of the Université Paris Saclay, is a “publically owned” private company, founded by the CNRS and the CEA.

The Oxygen Evolving Reaction (OER) is a key reaction to enable clean hydrogen technologies in the near future. It suffers, however, from slow kinetics, and therefore requires the use of catalysts to enhance its reaction rate. Noble metals such as iridium have typically been used to this end, but their high price and scarcity prevents their large-scale use. Transition metal oxides (TMOs) are possible candidates to replace these expensive catalysts, especially at neutral pH. Recently, nano-sized clusters of TMO embedded in thin, organic polymeric films have shown very efficient catalytic activity for the OER.1,2 The structure of these catalysts and the mechanism through which they function is still unknown, therefore limiting their improvement.

The OERNanocat project, coordinated by Dr. M.-N. Collomb at the University of Grenobles Alpes (UGA), was funded in 2022 by the ANR (French National Research Agency) to further develop these catalysts and understand their structure and functioning.


As part of this project, SOLEIL is hiring a post-doctoral fellow to collect X-ray absorption and Infra-Red spectroscopic data on the materials developed at UGA. Spectroscopic experiments will be performed under functioning conditions at the K-edge of transition metals for XAS (LUCIA beamline) and in the mid- and far-IR (AILES beamline). With these techniques, we seek to determine the structure (phase, particles size, oxidation state) of the nanoclusters, and the role of the polymer matrix (as proton relay, mass transport agent or ligand).

II. Experience required

We are looking for a highly motivated candidate holding a PhD in experimental sciences (physics, chemistry, material sciences) and a strong interest in electrocatalysis. A demonstrated experience in either X-ray absorption or Infra-Red spectroscopy is expected, including data analysis. Experience in electrocatalysis and particularly OER would be highly appreciated, while knowledge in basic inorganic chemistry and material characterization is expected. A strong drive for experimental work and instrumental developments is expected. The ability to work in a collaborative team with several partners in different locations is mandatory, as well as excellent communication skills (both written and oral) in English. The French language is not required.

  • Physical-chemistry
  • Coordination chemistry
  • Synchrotron radiation experience
  • Good English both spoken and written.
  • Basic knowledge in electrochemistry
  • Basic knowledge in catalysis
  • Basic knowledge in spectroscopy (IR and/or X-rays)
  • Ability for teamwork
  • Ability for autonomous work
  • Articles writing (in english)
  • Good organizational and reporting skills.
  • X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XANES and EXAFS
  • EXAFS data analysis (IFEFFIT software)

III. General condition

The post-doctoral fellow will be hired by and located at SOLEIL and short visits to Grenoble are to be expected.

IV. References

(1)           Morales, D. V. et al. Nickel Oxide–Polypyrrole Nanocomposite Electrode Materials for Electrocatalytic Water Oxidation. Catal Sci Technol 2018, 8 (16), 4030–4043.

(2)           Morales, D. V. et al. A Cobalt Oxide–Polypyrrole Nanocomposite as an Efficient and Stable Electrode Material for Electrocatalytic Water Oxidation. Sustain. Energy Fuels 2021, 5 (18), 4710–4723.

Job details

Post-doctoral position : Operando X-ray and IR spectroscopies for the study of water oxidizing electrocatalysts
L'Orme des Merisiers, Saint-Aubin Saint-Aubin, France
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Soleil is a particle accelerator that produces synchrotron radiation, extremely powerful light source for exploring inert or living matter.

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