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Electron microscopy investigation on Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC)

Research project: The group Physics and Chemistry of Nano-Objects (PCNano) at the Laboratoire des Solides Irradiés (LSI) (Ecole polytechnique) is looking for a postdoctoral candidate to perform research on proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC). A fuel cell is an electric generator that, in the presence of different fuels (hydrogen, alcohol) and oxidant (oxygen) realizes the direct transformation of chemical energy into electrical energy. In a proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC), the membrane is a solid polyelectrolyte (usually a Nafion® type sulfonated fluoropolymer) which has the dual purpose of transporting the protons from the anode to the cathode, while ensuring the separation of electrons and gases between the two compartments. As the degradation of the nano-catalysts is a limiting factor for commercialization, the optimization of the formulation of both membranes and electrodes (or active phases) is nowadays subject of an intense research activity. Although the degradation has been widely studied in the past, mainly by ex situ methods, the use of in situ and operando approaches could greatly improve our understanding of the mechanisms involved in electrochemical cycling. This is of vital importance to set up efficient optimization strategies, by improving both the stability of the electrochemical devices and their performances (density of energy and specific capacity).
The project is about using of a liquid cell holder to couple the capability of a transmission electron microscope - to characterize the structural properties of the materials involved in fuel cell cycling reactions - to the electrochemical ones - related to the cyclic voltammograms. Indeed, a liquid cell holder allows sealing a liquid environment between two electron-transparent membranes. This, in turn, allows at imaging in real time the behavior of the active phase close to one electrode while recording cyclic voltammograms.
Candidate Tasks:

  1. Structural characterization of the active phases.
  2. Study and interpretation of kinetic evolution of the active phases in liquid.
  3. Recording cyclic voltammograms and correlated them to the kinetic evolution of the active phases in liquid.

Candidate profile: We are looking for highly motivated scientists with conceptual skills, who can work independently, and are able to adopt new methods quickly. Required qualifications include a PhD in chemistry, materials science, or physics. A strong proven research background in electron microscopy is mandatory. In particular, the candidate must have a strong knowledge in High Resolution Microscopy (HRTEM), Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS) and Electronic Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS). In addition, knowledge in electrochemistry is advantageous. Fluency in English and ability to write research papers are also required.
Our offer: The postdoctoral position will be for 1 year. The successful candidates will work with in-situ equipment (Poseidon Select) and have access to state-of-the-art microscopes within the Interdisciplinary Center for Electron Microscopy of the Ecole polytechnique (CimeX). Research activity on Fuel cells will be carried out in tight collaboration with CEA-LITEN in Grenoble. The salary will be determined on the seniority and will be in the range 2200-2600 €/month (net of taxes).
Your application: Please mail your application documents including curriculum vitae, list of publications, a description of research interest/plan, and the names and addresses of two referees at your earliest convenience to
Dr. Giancarlo Rizza
e-mail : Nous contacter
Dr. Marie-Claude Clochard
e-mail: Nous contacter
Dr. Pierre-Eugène Coulon
e-mail: Nous contacter