Portugal: 3 PhD Research Grants under the ERC project at CICECO - Chemistry, Physics, Material Science

A tender is hereby opened for the award of 3 PhD Research Grants (RG) under the European Research Council Grant “Unveiling CO2 chemisorption mechanisms in solid adsorbents via surface-enhanced ex(in)-situ NMR” at CICECO, financed by Horizon 2020 – research and innovation action of the European Union, under the following conditions:

Application Deadline: 8 October

1. Scientific Area: Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, or related areas

2. Financing Source: European research Council – Grant agreement N.º 865974

3. Admission Requirements:

1) Students enrolled in doctorate

Candidate profile

Candidates must be enrolled in a PhD programme and hold a MSc degree in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, or related fields. PhD candidates with self-initiative and commitment to work both independently and as part of a multidisciplinary team will be highly appreciated. Candidates should possess an excellent academic record at both undergraduate and graduate levels (mininum grade of 14 out of 20). Previous experience in the synthesis and characterization of materials and/or relevant analytical skills and experience in NMR methods and/or ab initio calculations relevant to the project are desirable. Good oral and written communication skills are required.

The proof of enrolment must be made available until the contract is awarded, and the candidate may attach a declaration of honor to confirm that they meet the requirements for enrolment in an integrated master's degree, master's or doctoral program or in a course that does not confer an academic degree.

If the qualification has been conferred by a foreign higher education institution it must be recognized by a Portuguese higher education institution, under the terms of the provisions of article 25 of Decree-Law no. 66/2018, of August 16th, which approves the legal regime of recognition of academic degrees and diplomas of Higher Education, attributed by foreign higher education institutions, and of paragraph e) of no. 2 of article 4 of Decree-Law no. 60/2018, of August 3rd, and any formalities established therein must be fulfilled by the date of the hiring act.

4. Eligibility:

Applicants are eligible if they comply with paragraph a) of no.1 of article 2, of the Research Fellow Statute in the wording given by Decree-Law no. 123/2019, of August 28th, and also the provisions of article 9 of the Scientific Research Grant Regulations of the University of Aveiro. The duration of the RG is, as a rule, annual, extendable to a maximum of two years, in the case of master's degrees and integrated master's degrees, 12 months in case of non-degree courses, and four years in case of PhD program and the respective duration, including renewal, may be consecutive or interpolated, pursuant to no. 5 of Article 9 of the above mentioned Regulation.

5. Work plan:

PhD #1 – Synthesis and post-synthetic modification of porous adsorbent materials for CO2 capture

The candidate will deal with the synthesis of adsorbents including inorganic (e.g. porous silicas) and hybrid materials (e.g. functionalized silica surfaces, Periodic Mesoporous Organosilicas, MOFs) with relevance for pre- and post-combustion CO2 capture and gas separation. A library of organic-inorganic precursors with smart functionalities will be prepared. Functional groups for efficient CO2 capture and separation will be inserted into the porous adsorbents during the synthesis of the material or by post-synthetic modification methods of the sorbent material. Finally, the structure of the synthesized materials will be studied by adsorption techniques and atomic-scale characterization methods to obtain structure-property relationships aiming at designing improved CO2 adsorbents.

PhD #2 – Synthesis and post-synthetic modification of adsorbents and catalysts for CO2 conversion

The candidate will deal with the synthesis of materials based on functionalised organic polymers for CO2 adsorption and catalytic conversion. The introduction of functional groups bearing active sorption and/or catalytic centers will be performed using different post-/synthetic approaches. The characterization will be done using advanced analytical techniques. The adsorbents/catalysts performance and characterization will be assessed to build the correlation: structure-property-performance.

PhD #3 – Development of surface-enhanced NMR methods to study adsorbed gas species in confined spaces

The formation of chemi- and physisorbed species from gas adsorption (e.g. CO2) is a surface process, which produces intrinsically dilute species. The characterization of such species requires the use of sensitivity enhanced NMR methodologies. The candidate will design, develop, and apply NMR and MAS-DNP methodology to characterize adsorbed gas species in porous materials (silicas, periodic mesoporous organosilicas, covalent organic framework (COF), zeolites, etc.). These methods will be used to study the structure, mechanism of formation and the kinetics of the formed species upon gas adsorption. The results are expected to support the synthesis of adsorbents/catalyst, as well as the characterization of their mechanism of action. Therefore, a close interaction with computer modelling and synthetic methods will be an important part of the position. This project can be complemented by exploring the benefit of having strategically enriched isotopes (13C, 15N, 17O, 29Si) inserted in the adsorbents or adsorbates under study to obtain a surface enhanced NMR signal. Smart labelling strategies of the adsorbent materials are being pursued in the group and the PhD candidate is encouraged to join efforts in this direction.

6. Applicable legislation and regulations:

Research Fellow Statute, as amended by Decree-Law No. 123/2019, of August 28th; Scientific Research Grant Regulation of the University of Aveiro, Regulation No. 292/2020, published in Diário da República No. 61, Series II, of March 26th; Decree-Law No. 66/2018, of August 16th (Legal regime of recognition of academic degrees and diplomas of higher education awarded by foreign higher education institutions).

7. Workplace:

The work will be carried out at CICECO – Aveiro Institute of Materials, Chemistry Department of the University of Aveiro, under the scientific supervision of Doctor Luís Mafra and co-supervised by: Doctor Mirtha Lourenço (PhD#1), Doctor Marina Ilkaeva (PhD#2), Doctor Ildefonso Marín and Doctor Mariana Sardo (PhD#3).

8. Duration of the grant(s):

The grant duration will be 12 months, starting in January of 2022, and may be renewed for additional periods of 12 months, up to the maximum limit of approved funding (48 months). Under no circumstances shall it exceed the limits defined in nos. 5 and 6 of article 9, of Regulation no. 292/2020, of February 28th, published in Diário da República, no. 61, Series II, of March 26th (Scientific Research Grant Regulation of the University of Aveiro).

9. Amount of monthly maintenance allowance:

The amount of the grant corresponds to €1,104.64, according to the table of values of monthly maintenance allowances, set out in Appendix III of the Scientific Research Grant Regulation of the University of Aveiro, subject to any updates that may occur and are applicable. The fellow may also be reimbursed for the amount corresponding to the Voluntary Social Security, in case of adherence to this plan. Full payment of PhD tuition fees is also provided.

10. Selection methods:

The selection methods are the following: i) assessment of grades during the undergraduate and graduate studies (40-60%); ii) relevance and quality of previous experience/work of interest for this project (20-40%); iii) the three candidates with better classification will be invited to an interview in case the Jury considers it necessary (0-20%). All eligible candidates will be ordered consecutively in terms of relative merit, calculated from the selection method. Only candidates with a relative merit equal or higher than 16 (out of 20) will be considered for selection. The jury reserves the right to not fill the position in case no candidate meets all the admission requirements. All candidates will be informed about the results by email.

11. Composition of the Selection Jury: The Jury responsible for the evaluation process is composed by: Dr. Luís Mafra (Chair), Dra. Mariana Sardo and Dra. Mirtha Lourenço. Alternative members are Dr. Ildefonso Marín and Dra. Marina Ilkaeva.

12. Deadline for applications and how to submit applications: The call is open from 10 September to 8 October 2021, and only applications submitted within the deadline will be admitted.

Applications must be formalized by sending a letter of application mentioning the contacts of two or three references, accompanied by the following documents: i) detailed and updated Curriculum Vitae; ii) Academic degree certificate(s); iii) other documents the candidate considers relevant for the application. They shall also indicate the e-mail address to which by such indication they accept to be notified for all purposes within this procedure.

Applications should be sent by e-mail to msardo@ua.pt.

13. Form of publication/notification of results: The results of the evaluation shall be made public no later than 60 working days after the closing date for submission of applications and shall be notified to the applicants. The candidates are informed, in a prior hearing, under the terms established in the Code of Administrative Procedure, of the probable meaning of the final decision, and may, within 10 working days of this notification, express their opinion on this decision. The final results may be appealed to the Rector, to be submitted within 10 working days from the respective notification.

14. Tender duration: The final ranking list of candidates will be valid until 31stMarch 2022 for the purpose of constituting a reserve list for selection.

The models of the grant contract and of the final report to be prepared by the grant holder and the supervisor are available at Research fellows - sgrh - Universidade de Aveiro (ua.pt).