PhD position on “Clumped isotopes as a novel tracer for the N2O cycle

Empa is the research institute for materials science and techno-logy of the ETH Domain and conducts cutting-edge research for the benefit of industry and the well-being of society. The Labora-tory for Air Pollution/Environmental Technology offers a

PhD position on “Clumped isotopes as a novel tracer for the N2O cycle”

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a strong greenhouse gas and the most important anthropogenic ozone depleting substance emitted this century. The stable isotopic composition of N2O provides important information on its production/destruction processes. Measuring the doubly substituted “clumped” isotopes of N2O is expected to add new and unique dimensions to our ability to fingerprint and constrain the N2O biogeochemical cycle. In a larger perspective, this new technique will provide a new class of reservoir-insensitive approaches and molecular-scale insights.

The successful PhD candidate will develop a laser based analytical technique for the selective and precise analysis of the most abundant doubly substituted N2O isotopic species: 15N14N18O, 14N15N18O, and 15N15N16O. This includes provision of an absolute reference frame for N2O clumped isotope analysis by thermal equilibration and testing of exem-plary research hypotheses on N2O produced by microbial, fungal and abiotic sources processes.

We are looking for a highly motivated scientist with a MSc degree in chemistry, environmental sciences or a related discipline, and a strong interest in analytical chemistry and its environmental applications. Candidates with demonstrated research ability and excellent scholar background will be considered. Proficiency in spoken and written English is mandatory, basic comprehension and oral expression skills in German are desirable.

We offer a highly interdisciplinary research environment with state of the art laboratory equipment to perform cutting-edge research. The PhD candidate will be supervised by specialists in laser spectroscopy and clumped isotope analysis at Empa and ETH Zürich. Cooperation with experts at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA and Thünen Institut, Braun-schweig, Gemany is foreseen.

Applicants should send a letter of application, CV, statement of research interests, and addresses of 2-3 potential referees online via For questions about the position please contact Dr. Joachim Mohn, Empa, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland, +41 58 765 46 87, email:
Please submit your application online and upload all documents (“pdf”-file is recommended) through this webpage. Any other way of applying will not be considered

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