PhD Position at CNRS/Nantes University “Preparation of molecular materials for artificial photosynthesis to develop hybrid photoelectrochemical cells for solar driven carbon dioxide reduction and alcohol oxidation”

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    CEISAM UMR 6230 at CNRS/Nantes University
    ChemistryMolecular chemistry
    ChemistryOrganic chemistry
    ChemistrySolar chemistry
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    31/07/2021 00:00 - Europe/Brussels
    France › Nantes



Description of the project

There is now a worldwide conviction that artificial photosynthesis will constitute a major source of energy for human activity and that research should be boosted in order to tackle the issue of global warming. Artificial photosynthesis offers the prospect of producing unlimited energy in the form of chemical fuels (such as H2 or EtOH) for the energy sector and also raw chemicals for the industry (such as CO, MeOH, carbonyl derivatives) with sunlight as sole energy source and with abundant and cheap materials such as water, carbon dioxide or biomass.1

Photoelectrochemical cell (PEC) is composed of semiconductors whose surface is functionalized with catalysts and immersed in an electrolyte containing the reactants. This project is based on our initial works2 with the global objective to design, synthesize and investigate the properties of cross-linkable molecular catalysts grafted on electrodes to develop, for the first time, a stable photoelectrochemical cell to reduce CO2 to CO with concomitant oxidation of alcohols in carbonyls compounds with sunlight.

The project aims at combining a unique combination of highly active CO2 reduction molecular catalysts made of earth abundant transition metal and nitroxide derivatives for alcohol oxidation organo-catalysis grafted on efficient semiconductors such as copper chalcogenide and silicon. An innovative cross-linking strategy will enable to stabilize the grafting of the catalysts on the photoelectrodes.2b This thesis is part of a large project developed in collaboration with three other laboratorie: IMN at Nantes University, LEM at University Paris and LPICM at Ecole Polytechnique in Saclay. More specifically, the thesis will be done in the CEISAM laboratory at Nantes University and will focus on an important part of organic and coordination chemistry of molecules followed by electro- and photo-catalytic characterizations. The molecular catalyst will be functionalized by anchoring groups (such as phosphonic acid) to be immobilized on the electrodes along with cross-linkable units (such as azides) to stabilize the grafting. The catalyst will be then immobilized on porous photoelectrodes and their photocatalytic performances and long-term stabilities will be determined. The core activity of this multidisciplinary project focusses on molecular synthesis, but the thesis will offer a training on other fields such as catalysis, electrochemistry, photochemistry and material science to develop hybrid materials that mimic the biological process of natural photosynthesis.


1. Zhang, B., et al., Chem. Soc. Rev., 2019, 48 (7), 2216.

2. (a) Pati, P. B., et al., Nature Commun., 2020, 11 (1), 3499; (b) Bentounsi, Y., et al., J. Mater. Chem. A, 2020, 8 (25), 12633.

Location: University of Nantes, laboratory CEISAM UMR CNRS 6230

WEB page: https://ceisam.univ-nantes.fr/equipe-imf/materiaux-energie-information/


Duration: 36 months, starting September 2021


Salary: Net salary around 1600 €/month. Funding: ANR agency


More Information

Offer Requirements

    Chemistry: Master Degree or equivalent


The post requires a Master’s degree in Chemistry, with good competence and experience in organic synthesis for the preparation of sophisticated ligands. A highly motivated and skilled candidate for molecular synthesis is actively searched for this thesis. Additional competences in photophysic, material science and electrochemistry would be appreciated as well. Good communication skills either in French or in English (both written and oral) are required. Owing to the multidisciplinary aspect of the project, curiosity and motivation to acquire knowledge in different fields at the frontier of chemistry is also an asset.

Applicants are invited to send a curriculum-vitae, a cover letter and the name of two references for recommendation to Dr. Fabrice ODOBEL; E-mail: Fabrice.Odobel@univ-nantes.fr

Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
CNRS/Nantes University
2, rue de la Houssinière

EURAXESS offer ID: 604183


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