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PhD position in Physical Chemistry/Electrochemistry at the Institut des Sciences Chimiques de Rennes (ISCR) M/F, starting October 2021

This offer is available in the following languages:
Français - Anglais

Date Limite Candidature : jeudi 20 mai 2021

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General information

Reference : UMR6226-BRUFAB-002
Workplace : RENNES
Date of publication : Thursday, April 29, 2021
Scientific Responsible name : FABRE Bruno
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 4 October 2021
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic


The H2 production from the electrochemical reduction of water or protons at catalytic electrode materials is currently arousing tremendous interest among the international community. Indeed, H2 is very appealing because of its high mass energy density, which is about three times higher than that of gasoline. In that context, the efficiency of the release of H2 and O2 bubbles produced at the cathode and anode, respectively, greatly influences the yield of an electrolyzer which represents a critical issue for high-performance electrocatalysis.

The PhD work we propose will consist in:

(i) using controlled surface texture on mono- and bimetallic Ni-based porous electrodes allowing for a directed nucleation, growth, coalescence and transport of H2 bubbles;
(ii) characterizing the catalytic electrodes using a combination of surface characterization techniques (SEM, XPS and EDX);
(iii) evaluating the potential of the optimized electrodes for the electrolytic production of H2 in membraneless electrolyzers.
Challenging outcomes of this project will be in the implementation of effective membraneless electrolyzers producing high purity H2 from earth-abundant and cost-effective materials.

The PhD student will fabricate the textured and porous metallic electrodes using lithography and 3D printing techniques. She/he will perform their electrochemical/electrocatalytic characterizations and will determine the performance metrics (overpotential, current densities and long-term stability) for the hydrogen and oxygen evolution reactions. The recruited PhD student will collaborate with a team of physicists at Institut de Physique de Rennes (IPR) to work on the design and development of the experimental device allowing to monitor the gas bubble dynamics during electrocatalysis (high-speed videography coupled with a potentiostat).

Candidate's profile:
We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with a master degree in physical chemistry, possessing backgrounds essentially in electrochemistry and surface chemistry (experience in materials science would be also appreciated). He (she) will strongly interact with IPR for gas bubble dynamics studies but also with Ecole Normale Supérieure Rennes (SATIE) for the 3D topological optimization of the electrodes. He (she) will be supervised by two permanent CNRS researchers and will strongly interact with another PhD student.

Relevant references:
1) J. Tourneur, B. Fabre, et al. Molecular and Material Engineering of Photocathodes Derivatized with Polyoxometalate-Supported {Mo3S4} HER Catalysts, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141, 11954.
2) M. Kerdraon, JD. McGraw, B. Dollet and M.-C. Jullien, Self-Similar Relaxation of Confined Microfluidic Droplets, Phys. Rev. Lett. 2019, 123, 024501.

Work Context

The Condensed Matter and Electroactive Systems (MaCSE) team of the UMR 6226 "Institut des Sciences Chimiques de Rennes" gathers together chemists and physicochemists around the concept of electron transfer, in solids (molecular materials) and at interfaces (electrochemistry, modified surfaces). The functionalization of surfaces (semiconductors, carbon and metals) is an important research topic of our group that we develop with an electrochemical approach. In other words, we are mainly interested in systems where electron transfer plays a key role, either in the construction of the interface, or in the mechanisms involved in the modified interface, in their properties or simply in the methodology used to study them.

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