The Paul Scherrer Institute PSI is the largest research institute for natural and engineering sciences within Switzerland. We perform cutting-edge research in the fields of matter and materials, energy and environment and human health. By performing fundamental and applied research, we work on sustainable solutions for major challenges facing society, science and economy. PSI is committed to the training of future generations. Therefore, about one quarter of our staff are post-docs, post-graduates or apprentices. Altogether, PSI employs 2100 people.

Metals released into the biosphere may pose a significant threat for ecosystems and human health. Assessing this risk relies on a detailed knowledge of the geochemistry of the system, as well as on a detailed understanding of the retention mechanisms along the potential migration pathways. As major nano-particulate constituents of natural environments, clay minerals act as chemical sinks for dissolved micronutrients and pollutants. In spite of decades of research, however, there are still substantial knowledge gaps considering the molecular mechanism of ion uptake on specific adsorption sites, formation of solid solutions, and sorption competition between aqueous cations. All these processes are highly relevant for the reliable prediction of contaminant transport in soils and aquifers. The goal of this project is to fill in (part of) these gaps.

For the Clay Sorption Mechanism Group of the Laboratory for Waste Management we are looking for a
PhD Student
To work on the molecular scale understanding of competitive cation adsorption on swelling clay minerals
Your tasks
Investigate the single and competitive adsorption behaviour of transition metals and lanthanides on natural and synthetic clay minerals. Use highly complementary methods like wet chemistry, thermodynamic modelling, EXAFS spectroscopy, and additional techniques like TEM, AFM, XRD and FTIR. Collaborate with renowned European research institutions: Institut des Sciences de la Terre (Grenoble); European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (Grenoble) and Institute of Chemistry of Materials and Media (Poitiers).Communicate your scientific results in peer-reviewed journals, workshops and conferences.
Your profile
Master degree in Chemistry, Mineralogy, Earth or Environmental Sciences or a related field. Good communication skills in English and easy adaptation to multidisciplinary, international working environments. Affinity for laboratory work and thermodynamic modelling.
We offer
Our institution is based on an interdisciplinary, innovative and dynamic collaboration. You will profit from a systematic training on the job, in addition to personal development possibilities and our pronounced vocational training culture. If you wish to optimally combine work and family life or other personal interests, we are able to support you with our modern employment conditions and the on-site infrastructure.

For further information, please contact Dr Maria Marques, phone +41 56 310 23 10.

Please submit your application online by 30 September 2020 (including addresses of referees) for the position as a PhD Student (index no. 4402-00).

Paul Scherrer Institut Human Resources Management, Melina Spycher, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland