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Reference : UMR5253-DANLAU-004
Workplace : MONTPELLIER
Date of publication : Tuesday, September 01, 2020
Type of Contract : FTC Scientist
Contract Period : 12 months
Expected date of employment : 19 October 2020
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : Between 2600 and 3800 euros gross monthly salary (depending on experience)
Desired level of education : PhD
Experience required : Indifferent
Oxygen is present in the vast majority of molecules and materials around us, whether they are natural or synthetic. Developing tools capable of analyzing precisely the local environment of this nucleus is thus essential to be able to understand the structure and reactivity of a large number of systems. In this context, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is a particularly powerful technique, which can provide detailed information about the local structure around oxygen. However, it is poorly sensitive and only occasionally used, mainly because the isotope which can be studied by NMR, oxygen-17, has a very poor natural abundance (0.04 %).
To counter the very poor sensitivity of oxygen-17 NMR spectroscopy, a CNRS research group in Montpellier (France), recently looked into new techniques for 17O-isotopic labeling using mechanochemistry (https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.201702251). The advantage of this approach is that it gives access to a much broader range of molecules and materials enriched in 17O, thereby opening the way to structural investigations on a larger diversity of compounds, and to new developments in NMR spectroscopy. Moreover, the new labeling procedures have proven to be highly useful for elucidating reaction mechanisms between oxides during ball-milling reactions (https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.inorgchem.0c00208).
A post-doctoral research position is currently available at the Institut Charles Gerhardt in Montpellier, on a 12 month contract, funded by a European ERC-CoG grant. The main objective of this project is to allow a better understanding of the reaction and physico-chemical processes occuring during mechanochemical reactions. In this context, one part of the work will consist in developing new 17O enrichment protocols for molecular materials, and another part of the work will consist in implementing methods for following the reactions in "operando" mode. In both cases, advanced spectroscopic analyses of the reaction media will be performed, using in particular high resolution solid state NMR. Moreover, combined spectroscopic-computational approaches will also be looked into, to help identify amorphous intermediates and/or species forming at the interface of the reactive particles.
The research work will consist in:
- the synthesis of molecular materials using mechanochemistry
- 17O-isotopic labeling using ball-milling
- structural analyses (XRD, IR, Raman, SEM, TEM...), with a particular focus on solid-state NMR (especially 17O NMR)
- the implementation of operando techniques for mechanochemistry
- computational modeling and ab-initio calculations of NMR parameters (for example using the GIPAW method)
Moreover, the candidate will participate in the supervision of PhD students and interns which will be recruited as part of the project.
The candidate is expected to have sound training in materials chemistry and/or physical chemistry, and a PhD in solid state NMR. The knowledge of methods for calculating NMR parameters and techniques for the computational modeling of materials will be a definite asset.
More generally, the candidate needs to be highly motivated and capable of performing research in an autonomous and rigorous way. The selected candidate will participate to the supervision and training of the undergraduate and graduate students involved in the project. Given the multidisciplinarity and international-context of the project, the candidate is expected to have excellent team working skills and a very good level in English. He (she) will also be involved in the dissemination of the research, through publications, webinars and presentations at national and international conferences (if the context allows it).
The research will be performed at the Institut Charles Gerhardt (ICGM, UMR 5253) of the University of Montpellier (https://www.icgm.fr/). The ICGM is internationally recognised for its expertise in materials science, with an excellent research environment for the synthesis and characterization of materials. In particular, the recruited candidate will have direct access to 4 different ball-milling machines for the isotopic labeling, and to the different analytical platforms of the ICGM and the University of Montpellier for materials characterization (X-ray diffraction, electron microscopy…), including by solid state NMR (300, 400 and 600 MHz spectrometers, all « wide bore », equipped with a very large range of MAS NMR probes (1.2 to 9.5 mm diameter, including one probe specifically for 17O NMR experiments).
The selected candidate will not only interact on a day-to-day basis with the team of researchers and students involved in the project (and notably with Drs Danielle Laurencin and Thomas-Xavier Métro), but also with scientists with whom the team has established collaborations, locally, nationally and internationally. Moreover, to gain in sensitivity and resolution, measurements at higher fields or using Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (DNP) will be programmed, on the instruments of the French high-field NMR network (IR-RMN - http://www.ir-rmn.fr/).
Constraints and risks
The project is supported by the European Research Council (ERC consolidator program; MISOTOP project; PI: Danielle Laurencin).
To apply for the position, a CV and motivation letter must be deposited on the CNRS portal (https://emploi.cnrs.fr/Offres/CDD). Moreover, candidates are asked to provide the name and contact details of 3 former supervisors.
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