The Department of Interface Science www.fhi.mpg.de/isc-department headed by Prof. Beatriz Roldán Cuenya at the Fritz Haber Institute carries out cutting-edge research on advanced functional materials with applications in heterogeneous catalysis, energy conversion and electrochemistry. By combining unique synthesis methods, state-of-the art tools for experimental characterization and advanced approaches to data analysis, atomistic details of thermal catalysis and electrochemical reactions at gas/solid and liquid/solid interfaces are revealed. In particular, structure-reactivity correlations on nanostructured materials can be established, paving the way for the rational design of novel catalytic materials.
We are currently looking for a PhD student for the electrochemistry group (www.fhi.mpg.de/isc-dept/research-groups/electrochemistry) at the Department of Interface Science.
Bipolar membranes can dissociate or form water (H++OH- ↔ H2O) at the interface between a proton and a hydroxide ion conductor under applied bias. This ability enables bipolar membranes to maintain a pH gradient across an electrochemical device between anode and cathode and has led to their industrial application in electrodialysis. Recently, we have made a major discovery that links the water dissociation catalysis occuring inside the bipolar membrane junction to water dissociation occuring on electrocatalyst surfaces. This fundamental link shows us that the bipolar membrane junction can also be used as a way to study operando water dissociation fundamentals.
The selected candidate will be joining this new research direction that is being established within the ISC department. Your main goal will be to better understand operando water dissociation and water formation inside the bipolar membrane junction and during electrocatalysis. Additionally, bipolar membranes are already being applied industrially (with poorer performance than our most recent results) and have a wealth of future application, such as for fuel cells and the electrochemical CO2 reduction; a unique situation, where your fundamental work has the potential for direct practical impact. After successfully completing the PhD you will have a unique combination of skills that will make you well-equipped to continue fundamental research or pivot into the industry.
The PhD position is for three years.