PostDoc position on Strain-Enhanced Ionic-Conductivity in Oxide Membranes for Energy Applications


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Empa is the research institute for materials science and technology of the ETH Domain and conducts cutting-edge research for the benefit of industry and the well-being of society.

The Empa Laboratory for Joining Technologies & Corrosion in Dübendorf (near Zürich) is offering a

PostDoc position on Strain-Enhanced Ionic-Conductivity in Oxide Membranes for Energy Applications

Project goal: Investigate the strain-enhanced ion-conductivity in elastically and plastically deformed single and polycrystalline oxide membranes and thin films. This work opens new avenues for the design of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) in miniaturized systems for energy storage in mobile applications. Furthermore, an increased ionic conductivity in plastically deformed oxide thin films can also pave the way to optimized functional properties of other thin oxide film technologies, such as ferroelectricity, band gap tuning, resistive memory switching, and catalysis.

Your tasks: We are looking for a highly motivated enthusiastic candidate to perform systematic experimental investigations to derive the ionic conductivity in Y-doped ZrO2 (YSZ) and SrZrO3 thin films as function of the applied mechanical bending strain. The candidate will:

  • fabricate epitaxial and polycrystalline thin films by PLD and magnetron sputtering, respectively
  • transfer epitaxial films on thin membranes by etching a sacrificial interlayer in water.
  • implement a 3-point bending setup for applying controlled mechanical strain levels on single-crystalline and polycrystalline oxide membranes from the elastic up to the plastic regime.
  • characterize the effect of strain on the ionic conductivity in oxide membranes also in relation with e.g. the grain-size, texture and defect structure by using a combined analytical approach using Impedance and Raman spectroscopy, X-ray Diffraction (XRD), In-situ soft and hard X-ray Photoemission Spectroscopy (XPS/HAXPES) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM).

Your profile: You own a PhD degree in physics, chemistry, material science or a similar discipline with hands-on skills in thin-film growth (in particular, magnetron sputtering and/or pulsed laser deposition), transport measurements in oxides and/or defect chemistry of oxides. Strong backgrounds in the following areas are a clear advantage: defect chemistry of oxides, Impedance and Raman spectroscopy and/or HAXPS. Excellent knowledge of English (oral and written) is mandatory. German is an advantage. The ability to collaborate in a multidisciplinary research environment is essential. Personal initiative, ability to work systematically, reliability, responsibility, teamwork and communication skills are a must.

We offer: The position is available from 1st January 2021 (or later upon agreement) and is intended for 2 years. The candidate will be stationed at Empa in Dübendorf and will be part of the interdisciplinary teams of the Laboratories for Joining Technologies & Corrosion and Transport at Nanoscale Interfaces.

For further information about the position please contact Dr Claudia Cancellieri or Dr Fabio La Mattina and visit our websites and Empa-Video
We look forward to receiving your online application including a letter of motivation, CV, diplomas with transcripts and contact details of two referees. Please upload the requested documents through our webpage. Applications via email will not be considered.
Empa, Cristina Marinoni, Human Resources, Ueberlandstrasse 129, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland.

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