PhD student position: Spectroscopic investigation and modelling (m/f/d)

Germany, Hanau
Automotive Catalysts
Research & Development

Posted on 09-12-2021

Do you want to conduct applied research in heterogeneous catalysis in a mixed industrial/academic environment and within a network bringing together leading European groups in the field of automotive catalysts? The team includes complementary expertise in catalysts characterization and testing, computational catalysis and modelling of catalysts behaviour. The PhD student position at Umicore AG & Co KG in Germany will support the project with spectroscopic investigation of hydrothermally aged Cu-CHA catalysts, and the development of models describing the impact of SO2 on the performance of the aged catalysts for application in engine tests.

Information about the project

The project CHASS is an industrial doctoral training programme, supported by the EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN-EID action, which aims to educate four PhD students. The project targets deactivation of SCR catalysts for NOx removal from diesel exhaust gases, with special focus on poisoning by SO2 and exposures to high temperatures. The aim is to build models based on a fundamental chemical understanding of the catalysts, which can be applied in the development of future exhaust systems.

The work will take place in a network consisting of two academic groups at the University of Turin (Italy) and Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg (Sweden) and two industrial groups at Umicore AG & Co KG in Hanau (Germany) and Umicore Denmark ApS in Hørsholm. These groups are leading in the field of automotive catalysis and cover expertise from fundamental atomistic understanding to technological application, including quantum-chemistry, thermodynamics, spectroscopy, kinetic measurements and modelling. The successful candidates will be enrolled in the PhD programs at the participating universities and spend at least 18 months in one of the Umicore locations. This provides opportunities to gain training and experience in interdisciplinary teams in both academic and industrial environments, and a training as creative, entrepreneurial, and innovative researchers, while contributing to the development of sustainable technologies. The programme also foresees personal development plans including workshops within the network, courses, and training in personal skills like communication and teamwork. As CHASS is committed to a well-balanced gender ratio, this job posting addresses qualified male and female persons equally.

The successful candidate for this specific position will be employed at Umicore AG & Co KG in the Automotive Catalysis Research and Technology department for a total period of 3 years, including an 18 month stay in the group of Prof. Gloria Berlier in the Chemistry department at the University of Turin, Italy. During the stay in Turin, the main focus will be on spectroscopic characterization, mostly FTIR, UV-Vis, Raman, of hydrothermally aged Cu-CHA catalysts for NH3-SCR and the impact of SO2 on these catalysts. The results of these studies, together with the results from other parts of the project, then form the basis for the work conducted at Umicore which will focus on the development of a kinetic model describing the impact of SO2 and  hydrothermal ageing on catalyst performance. The candidate will be part of a team of 4 PhD students working in the project.

For information on Umicore Automotive Catalysis:


For information on the Chemistry Department at the University of Turin:

Major responsibilities
The successful candidate to be employed at Umicore Ag & Co KG in Germany will execute spectroscopic characterization of aged Cu-CHA catalysts by FTIR, UV-Vis, Raman, of hydrothermally aged catalysts, and determine the impact of SO2 on these catalysts. The candidate will then implement the learnings from these studies in a kinetic model describing the impact of SO2 on SCR catalysts in exhaust systems.

Position summary
Full time employment for a period of 3 years.

The successful candidate should have:
(1) Master of Science degree in Physics, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering or Materials Science, with a clear interest in linking experimental results with theory.
(2) Good understanding of reaction kinetics concepts, solid state materials, and interest in quantum-chemical calculations.

(3) Basic understanding of reactor engineering concepts and experience with a computer programming language, for example Matlab. 
(4) Understanding of and technical insight in laboratory equipment (reactor and spectrometer).
(5) Good communication skills in written and spoken English.

As a part of the EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN-EID action, the candidate must in addition fulfil the following requirements to be eligible for the position:

(a) the candidate should not have resided or carried out main activities (work, studies, etc.) in Germany for more than twelve months in the three years immediately before the date of recruitment (doctoral thesis starting date). Compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not considered.
(b) the candidate must be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers, career breaks excluded. Career breaks refer to periods of time where the candidate was not active in research, regardless of employment status.
(c) the candidate must not yet have been awarded a doctoral degree (PhD).


Our offer to you

At Umicore we aim to lead the way. Not just for our customers, but for our employees too. That is why we strive to create a collaborative environment in which we can all succeed, and a culture through which we can all share ideas, develop our expertise and advance our careers. We engage in building an inclusive work culture that offers equal opportunities for all employees irrespective of their diverse backgrounds. As you would expect from a world-leading organisation, we will also reward your contribution with a competitive salary and benefits. With all this and more, imagine what you could do?

Application procedure

The application should be uploaded via the Umicore web platform using the “apply” button below. The application should be uploaded electronically and the following attached as pdf-files:

CV: (Please name the document: CV, Family name)
• CV
• Other, for example previous employments or leadership qualifications and positions of trust.
• Two references that we can contact.


Motivation letter: (Please name the document as: Personal letter, Family name)
1-3 pages where you:
• Introduce yourself
• Describe your previous experience of relevance for the position (e.g. education, thesis work and, if applicable, any other research activities)
• Describe your future goals and future research focus

Other documents:
• Copies of bachelor and/or master’s thesis.
• Attested copies and transcripts of completed education, grades and other certificates, e.g. TOEFL test results.

Please use the button at the bottom of the page to reach the application form. The files may be compressed (zipped).

Application deadline: December 12, 2021

For more information, please contact:

Martin Votsmeier
R&D Senior Expert, Automotive Catalysts
Umicore AG & Co.
Rodenbacher Chaussee 4 P.O. Box 1351
63457 Hanau-Wolfgang

Umicore is a global material technology and recycling company with around 10,000 employees and a turnover of 12 billion EURO. At Umicore we reduce harmful emissions, power the vehicles and technologies of the future, and give new life to used metals. Our materials and services provide tomorrow’s sustainable solutions for clean mobility and recycling. We are unique in offering material technology for all vehicle platform types and in offering an efficient and environmentally sound closed loop solution. Our overriding goal of sustainable value creation is based on an ambition to develop, produce and recycle materials in a way that fulfils our mission: materials for a better life.

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