PostDoctoral Fellow (PDF) position: “Multi-scale/physics ex-situ vs. in-situ vs. operando electrochemical/structural characterizations of self-healing Lithium-Metal Batteries (LMBs)“

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    ChemistryPhysical chemistry
    Recognised Researcher (R2)
    31/05/2021 15:00 - Europe/Brussels
    France › GRENOBLE


Societal, Scientific, and Technological Context

Mankind is facing in the 21st century a rapidly increasing demand for efficient energy generation and storage solutions to fulfil a societal basic need crystallized in the United Nation Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) N°7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. These pressing demands are calling for innovation breakthroughs unlocking future (already foreseen) technological roadblocks for a safer/cleaner (decarbonized) energy generation (i.e. optimizing the right energy mix) balanced by the equally important access to energy storage 2.0 solutions to ensure a doable energetic balance on a planet with finite resources. These acute and critical issues create unprecedented challenging but truly stimulating opportunities for researchers to produce sizeable and transformative impacts to benefiting our societies. This is particularly true for developing future electrochemical energy storage solutions, which depend on the advancement of science and technology to allow for safer by design rechargeable batteries with enhanced energy densities.


Within this context, the development of next generation reactive metal (e.g. Li, Na or K) anode-based batteries is foreseen as promising key-enabling technologies. For rechargeable lithium-based batteries (LiBs), the metallic anode would indeed allow for a tenfold increase in specific capacity compared to a graphite anode. Nevertheless, the commercialization of secondary Lithium Metal Batteries (LMBs) will only become feasible when current safety and performance problems will have been overcome: i) Leakage, poor chemical stability, flammability, and parasitic reactions with Li metal, ii) unstable and dendritic lithium deposition, and iii) rather limited performances of organic (liquid) electrolytes. These issues are in part associated with the heart of LiBs, i.e. the electrolytes: Liquid organic electrolytes with low cationic transference numbers, and relatively low ionic conductivities and poor mechanical properties for salt-in-polymer (solid) polymer electrolytes (SPEs). This is calling for a new blueprint to trigger innovation breakthroughs allowing long lasting and efficient cell chemistries unlocking the commercialization path to (very much) awaited safer by design and higher performances secondary batteries.


Objectives & Rational

In line with the trajectory of the ten-year long (FET-Flagship) Battery 2030+ European initiative (Website: https://battery2030.eu/: Manifesto & Roadmap), this PDF research project aims at multi-scale/physics ex-situ vs. in situ vs. operando electrochemical/structural characterization of self-healing LMBs.


To realize this ambition and go beyond the State-of-the-Art (SoA), this basic research-oriented project is grounded onto an innovative functional soft-matter-based class of organic electrolytes 2.0: Thermotropic ionic liquid crystals(TILCs). These tunable-by-design ionically conducting and chemistry-neutral (generic concept for Li+ Na+, K+ (etc.) based) electrolytes represent the fusion of two known class of materials: the stimuli-responsive & dynamically self-assembling Thermotropic Liquid Crystals (TLCs) and cationic (Li+/Na+/K+) organic conductors. Its overarching goal and rational will be to deliver proof of concept demonstrations of their self-healing ability combined with efficient nanoconfined cationic transport functionality within prescribed 1D, 2D or 3D morphologies connecting the Li Metal anode and the cathode of LMBs.


PDF Research Tasks

The PDF will primarily aim at deciphering the multi-scale electrochemistry/structure/ionic transport correlations within TILCs and TILC/electrodes interphase in electrochemical energy storage devices (batteries & pouch cells) to monitor electrochemical bulk and interfacial processes/reactions and their impact on KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) of self-healing LMBs developed under the H2020 (Grant Agreement #957202) HIDDEN project


She/He will be also in charge of characterizing (the structure & dynamics of) TILCs synthesized by the CNRS+UGA & Specific Polymers partner of the H2020 (Grant Agreement #957202) HIDDEN project. She/He will address two fundamental questions for self-healing nanostructured organic electrolytes in next generation electrochemical energy storage devices: i) the role of (1D vs. 2D vs. 3D) dimensionality onto the percolation and nanoconfinement of charge carriers within multiscale phase-segregated electrolyte with hierarchically self-organized insulating & conducting sub-phases & ii) the dynamic mosaicity & the defect management in ionically conducting soft matter, with or without external stimuli.


To realize these intertwined tasks, She/He will benefit from SoA Lab. (UMR5819-SyMMES: HyBRID-EN Platform) and European (e.g. ESRF & Soleil) large-scale facilities dedicated (ex situ/in situ/operando) characterizing multi-modal/physics platforms, making use of and/or combining: High Resolution & Solid-State NMR (HR-NMR & SS-NMR) and FTIR spectroscopies, Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), Polarized Optical Microscopy (POM), Synchrotron-based X-ray (SAXS/WAXS) Scattering and X-ray ((nano-)Computed Tomography & Coherent (nano-beam) Diffractive) Imaging, Potentiostatic Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (PEIS), Galvanostatic Cycling with Potential Limitation (GCPL), Galvanostatic Intermittent Titration Technique (GITT) Pulse-Field Gradient NMR (PFG-NMR), and NMR relaxometry, to name a few.


Work Context

Co-advised by Dr. P. Rannou (ORCID: 0000-0001-9376-7136. PR’s Homepage:) and Prof. S. Sadki (ORCID: 0000-0002-4187-6039.) at the UMR5819-SyMMEs lab in Grenoble within the premises of the Grenoble Innovation for Advanced New Technologies (GIANT) campus, the PDF will be embedded within the CNRS+UGA team of a recently granted 3 year-long H2020 project (Topic: LC-BAT-14-2020: “Self-healing functionalities for long lasting battery cell chemistries”. Type of Action: RIA. Budget: € 4,000,000. Start date: Sept. 1, 2020. End date: Aug. 31, 2023) gathering the cross-fertilizing expertise and know-how of Seven partners (VTT, CNRS+UGA, CSEM, BFH, Belenos Clean Power, Specific Polymers & RTD Talos Ltd across Europe within the Battery 2030+ European Initiative (https://battery2030.eu) HIDDEN project (Grant Agreement #957202).

Websites: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/957202 & https://www.hidden-project.eu/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/hidden-project

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HIDDENProjectEU

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HiddenProjectEU


Within this rich scientific ((Electro)Chemistry, Physics, Nano-Science/Technologies, Electrochemical Energy storage, Nano-Ionics/Fluidics) and multinational environment, He/She will be strongly involved in the highly versatile and comprehensive tasks of the H2020 (Grant Agreement #957202) HIDDEN project, benefiting from interactions (and short stays & specific training action) within an unique research and innovation ecosystem consisting in Academic labs, SMEs, Research & Technology Organisations (RTOs specialized in Technology Transfer & Industry-oriented Research & Innovation), and Battery Manufacturers at the forefront of “beyond SoA” functional soft-matter and electrochemical energy storage research & innovation to develop her/his PDF researchproject and to expand her/his professional network


Further reading (Topics: Functional Liquid Crystals, Nanoconfined Ionic Transport, Precision Copolymer Electrolytes, Solid Polymer Electrolytes, TILCs-based Electrolytes): Selected articles & patents over the 2014-2020 period

*1. D. Bresser, D; Leclere, M; Bernard, L; Rannou, P.; Mendil‐Jakani, H; Kim, G-T; Zinkevich, T; Indris, S; Gebel, G.; Lyonnard, S; Picard, L; "Organic liquid crystals as single‐ion Li+ conductors", ChemSusChem, (2020). DOI: 10.1002/cssc.202001995

*2. Cherian, T.; Rosa Nunes, D.; Dane, T.G.; Jacquemin, J.; Vainio, U.; Myllymäki, T.; Timonen, J.; Houbenov, N.; Maréchal, M.; Rannou, P.; Ikkala, O. "Supramolecular self-assembly of nanoconfined ionic liquids for fast anisotropic ion transport", Adv. Funct. Mater. 29, 1905054 (2019). DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201905054

*3. Myllymäki, T.T.T.; Guliyeva, A.; Korpi, A.; Kostiainen, M.A.; Hynninen, V.; Nonappa; Rannou, P.; O. Ikkala; O., Halila, S. "Lyotropic liquid crystals and linear supramolecular polymers of end-functionalized oligosaccharides", Chem. Commun. 55, 11739-11742 (2019), DOI: 10.1039/C9CC04715H

*4. Overton, P.; Rannou, P.; Picard L. “Sulfonamide macromolecules useful as single-ion conducting polymer electrolytes”, FR3068693, WO/2019/008061, Jan. 10, 2019. PCT/EP2018/068135

*5. Trigg, E.B.; Gaines, T.W.; Maréchal, M.; Moed, D.E.; Rannou, P.; Wagener, K.B.; Stevens, M.J.; Winey, K.I. “Self-Assembled highly ordered acid layers in precisely sulfonated polyethylene produce efficient proton transport”, Nat. Mater. 17, 725-731 (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41563-018-0097-2

*6. Delhorbe, V.; Bresser, D.; Mendil-Jakani, H.; Rannou, P.; Bernard, L.; Gutel, T.; Lyonnard, S.; Picard, L. “Unveiling the ion conduction mechanism in imidazolium-based poly(ionic liquids): A comprehensive investigation of the structure-to-transport interplay”, Macromolecules 50, 4309-4321 (2017). DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.7b00197

*7. Picard, L.; Gebel, G.; Leclère, M.; Mendil-Jakani, H.; Rannou, P., “Electrolytes for electrochemical generators”, FR3041358, US20180261886, EP3353262, WO/2017/050769, March 30, 2017. PCT/EP2016/072312

*8. Ikkala, O.; Houbenov, N.; Rannou, P., "From block copolymer self-assembly, liquid crystallinity, and supramolecular concepts to functionalities", Handbook of Liquid Crystals (8 volumes), 2nd edition, Eds. J.W. Goodby, P.J. Collings, T. Kato, C. Tschierske, H. Gleeson, P. Raines, ISBN-13: 978-3-527-32773-7, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, Germany, Volume 7: Supramolecular and Polymer Liquid Crystals, 541-598 (2014). DOI: 10.1002/9783527671403.hlc122



1: Electrochemistry.

2: Electrochemical energy storage.

3: Lithium-Metal Batteries (LMBs).

4: Multi-scale/physics structure/ionic transport correlations: SAXS/WAXS, X-ray CDI/CT & CV, EIS, PEIS, GCPL, GIIT.

5: Ex-situ vs in situ vs. operando SoA multimodal characterizations within Lab. (SyMMES) and (Synchroton-based) large-scale facilities (e.g. ESRF/Soleil).

6: Self-Healing Electrolytes.

7: Thermotropic ionic liquid crystals (TILCs).

8: Nanoconfined Ionic Transport: NanoIonics/Nanofluidics.

More Information


Funding: H2020 PDF Fellowship

Salary: € 2,675 up to € 3,800 gross salary/month (depending on experience) including a (French) competitive health/medi-care package

Employer: CNRS

Duration: Up to 28 month-long (fixed-term) PDF (CNRS) contract

Eligibility criteria

The candidates should provide a single e-application file combining

1) A detailed curriculum vitae,

2) A cover letter with description of your research achievements and research interests,

3) Transcripts of all degree (in English) ,

4) Names and contacts of at least two references,

5) Up to 3 representative published works.

This single pdf file should be addressed both to Dr. P. Rannou (ORCID: 0000-0001-9376-7136): patrice.rannou@univ-grenoble-alpes.fr) & Prof. S. Saski (ORCID: 0000-0002-4295-7244): said.sadki@univ-grenoble-alpes.fr)

Selection process

The deadline for application is May 31st, 2020 @ 3:00 pm (CEST, Grenoble). We encourage candidates to apply as soon as possible as the search for candidates will continue until the position is filled. Applications will be evaluated through a three-step process, under a continuous recruitment scheme:

Step 1: Eligibility check of applications based on the submitted application (single) e-file

Step 2: 1st round of selection: The applications will be evaluated by the co-advisors. The applicants will be notified of the results (i.e. Go/No Go for Step 3)

Step 3: 2nd round of selection: Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview session via videoconference. All applicants qualified for Step 3 will be notified of the final decision.

Required Research Experiences

    ChemistryPhysical chemistry
    1 - 4

Offer Requirements

    Chemistry: PhD or equivalent
    ENGLISH: Excellent
    FRENCH: Basic



The PDF applicant should preferentially hold a PhD degree in Electrochemistry or Materials Science in the field of Electrotrochemical Energy Storage, with hands on expertise and track record experience in the design/processing/assembly of electrochemical cells and advanced electrochemical (CV, PEIS, GCPL, GIIT) characterizations of high-performance secondary batteries (e.g. Lithium-Ion/metal batteries (LiBs/LMBs)).


Know-how of functional (especially ionically conducting) soft matter and previous experiences in multiscale structure and dynamics (synchrotron-based SAXS/WAXS, X-cay (nano)computed Tomography, X-ray Coherent Diffractive Imaging)/electrochemical & transport properties correlations of ionically conducting organic electrolytes and rechargeable batteries (LiBs/LMBs ) will be considered as a plus.


A demonstrated ability to perform independent work, to supervise (under)graduate students, to work across borders of (electro)chemistry and physics of functional soft mater and electrochemical energy storage devices, and excellent communication and writing (English) skills are equally important criteria with respect to academic qualifications and scientific merit for the selection of the PDF. The PDF position is immediately available


Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
17 Avenue des Martyrs

EURAXESS offer ID: 592602


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