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 future technologies, energy and climate, health innovation and fundamentals of nature. 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 2200 people. 

The direct costs related to corrosion of infrastructures in Europe are estimated at 250 billion EUR annually. Due to the considerable amount of greenhouse gas emissions attributed to the construction sector, large-scale impact can potentially be made by scientific based improvement of technology. 

In the framework of a SNSF-funded Sinergia project “PRINCE: PRocesses at the INterface of iron and Cement”, we are looking for one PhD Student dedicated to experimental studies of Fe-corrosion processes at iron-cement interfaces. The PRINCE project is jointly implemented via several PhD projects at PSI, EMPA, University Bern and ETHZ, and includes laboratory investigations of Fe oxidation kinetics; dissolution/precipitation processes; spectroscopic characterization of corrosion products at international synchrotron facilities (e.g. France, USA, UK); and thermodynamic and reactive transport modelling of these processes, including atomistic and pore scale simulations based on state of the art methods of quantum mechanics and machine learning.

PhD Student on reactive transport experiments of iron transport in cementitious materials

Your tasks

The specific project work package has a primary focus on laboratory experimental reactive transport studies to decipher the iron diffusion pathways in cementitious media. The effect of Iron complexes and colloid formation on diffusion will be evaluated. Fe(III) and Fe(II) diffusive transport will be studied using diffusive cells at aerobic and anaerobic conditions, respectively. The experiments will be analyzed using μXRF and μXRD techniques to obtain the Fe diffusion profiles. The project will be conducted in close collaboration and exchange with the modelling teams.

Your profile

  • We are looking for a motivated student with solid knowledge of inorganicchemistry and advanced analytical characterisation techniques
  • Knowledge of cement chemistry, electrochemistry and thermodynamics is anasset. The project is highly interdisciplinary, and we welcome applicants withappropriate skill sets coming from a range of disciplinary backgrounds. Themain working language of the project is English, and so we are seekingapplicants with good proficiency in both written and spoken English

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. 

The PhD student will be employed at PSI and matriculated at ETHZ. The students working on the PRINCE project have a real chance to contribute to sustainable technological development in an intellectually lively environment with a world-leading team, and to build up an exclusive research profile in the field of materials sciences with outstanding career opportunities in academic or industrial sectors.

For further information, please contact Prof. Dr. Sergey Churakov (PSI/UniBern) +41 56 310 4113, Dr. Nikolaos Prasianakis (PSI) +41 56 310 2415, Prof. Dr. Ueli Angst (ETHZ) +41 44 633 4024. 

Please submit your application online by 31 July 2024 (including CV, study transcripts and addresses of referees) for the position as a PhD Student (index no. 4400-00).

Paul Scherrer Institut, Human Resources Management, Serdal Varol, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland