PhD position in "Surface Oxide Reactivity of Metallic Biomaterials" (a)
Materials science and technology are our passion. With our cutting-edge research, Empa's around 1,100 employees make essential contributions to the well-being of society for a future worth living. Empa is a research institution of the ETH Domain.
The "Laboratory for Joining Technologies and Corrosion" is dedicated to investigating solid-liquid interface phenomena. A key research focus is to study the durability and medical function of metals used as medical implant materials. Their performance critically depends on the (electro)chemical reactivity and passivation ability (oxide formation) of the metal surface in the complex physiological environment. Local structural or chemical fluctuations of these nanometer thin surface oxides (i.e. oxide heterogeneities) can fundamentally modify the interaction with biological molecules, and might give raise to biocorrosion or implant instability. Within this 4-year project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), we will investigate the role of oxide heterogeneity in biomaterial surface reactivity, aiming at elucidating the mutual interplay of these oxides with biological matter. This multidisciplinary project combines state-of-the-art thin-film oxide synthesis and characterization with innovative analytical methodology based on electrochemistry and high-resolution microscopy/spectroscopy of the solid-(bio)liquid interface.
Your tasks will involve
  • synthesis and functionalization of metal oxides via thin film deposition, electrochemical methods, and laser treatment
  • detailed surface analysis of the metal oxide films using state-of-the-art analytical tools (based on Raman, XPS, AFM)
  • in-depth electrochemical characterization at macroscopic and nano-/micrometer scale in physiological-relevant media (body fluids) 
  • methods development to access the reactivity of the metal oxide-biology interface at high resolution
  • development of strong transferable skills in scientific methods, problem solving, and scientific results communications
Your profile
You have (or will soon complete) a Master's degree in Materials Science, Electrochemistry, Physical Chemistry, or related discipline and share our enthusiasm for medical materials and material-biology interplay. You have hands-on experience in electrochemistry and materials characterization, and are excited to learn new methods. Knowledge of protein analytics and/or biocorrosion is a plus. You value & practice open communication, are proactive, are a diligent and organized, curiosity-driven team player with excellent English communication and writing skills. Knowledge of German is an advantage but no requirement. 
This project is highly interdisciplinary and will involve close collaboration with biologists, physicists and materials scientists – thus your eager for interdisciplinary research is essential.
Our offer
We offer a multidisciplinary & international research environment, access to state-of-the-art laboratory equipment at Empa and the wider ETH domain for thin film deposition and characterization, laser processing, electrochemistry and high-resolution microscopy & spectroscopy. We take mentorship seriously. The offered position is part of a larger project in which you will be working with distinguished experts in their fields, benefitting from their expertise and mentorship. 
This fully-funded PhD position (100%) is available as of 1st of October 2023 (or later, upon agreement) for up to 4 years. The work will be conducted in the beautiful Zurich area, with occasional experiments at our collaborators' lab in Switzerland. You will be enrolled as a PhD student at the reputed University of Zürich (Advisor: Prof. Dr. David Tilley), offering additional student benefits.
«a» stands for «all» in our job advertisements. We live a culture of inclusion and respect. We welcome all people who are interested in innovative, sustainable and meaningful activities - that's what counts.
We look forward to receiving your complete online application including a letter of motivation, CV, certificates, diplomas and contact details of two reference persons. Please submit these exclusively via our job portal. Applications by e-mail and by post will not be considered.
Cristina Marinoni, Bereichspersonalleiterin / HR Partner
  Dr. Martina Cihova
Laboratory for Joining Technologies & Corrosion
Your future place of work
Ueberlandstrasse 129
8600 Dübendorf
Empa as an employer
Innovative, sustainable, meaningful activities
Creating added value for society
International, multicultural working environment
Freedom to create and develop
Culture of inclusion and respect
Excellent balance between different areas of life
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