PhDs Porous Organic Solids for High-Density Energy Storage in Redox Flow Batteries

University of Groningen
November 30, 2023
Offerd Salary:€ 2,770
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Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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PhDs Porous Organic Solids for High-Density Energy Storage in Redox Flow

Batteries (V23.0671)

Job description

We are looking for two PhD candidates for a joint project between the groups of Prof. Ben Feringa and Prof. Edwin Otten, within the framework of the Advanced Research Center Chemical Building Blocks Consortium (ARC-CBBC). The goal of this project is to explore novel promising classes of organic active materials for batteries that feature (multiple) highly robust and electrochemically switchable redox units. Redox-active organics incorporated into porous framework materials will be investigated as solid capacity boosters in lab-scale flow batteries.

The increased share of intermittent renewable generation in the energy mix presents significant challenges for grid stability. This necessitates deployment of large-scale energy storage to balance supply/demand. Batteries are expected to play a prominent role in this, but advances in technology are required to provide affordable and safe energy storage at scale. Redox flow batteries (RFBs) are a promising technology with the capability to provide long-duration storage (8+ hours), but the currently used vanadium electrolyte chemistry is expensive and is subject to environmental and geopolitical concerns. The objective of this project is to deliver cost- effective, high energy-dense storage materials for RFBs, which have the potential to play a significant role in the energy transition.

The research will focus on innovative battery materials based on the design of novel redox active buildings blocks combined with porous solids that consist of redox-active organic linkers and non-scarce metals such as Ti, Zr, Fe, Al, Mg or Zn. It combines state-of-the-art (metal-)organic synthesis, design of functional reticular (porous) solid materials and electrochemistry research. Each of the PhD candidates will initially focus on one of the half-reactions. In a later stage, this knowledge will be combined to construct battery systems, where the PhD candidates will collaborate in the experimental work but each focusing on the performance of their individual half-reaction.

In additional to the academic supervision, the PhD candidates will receive supervision from the industrial partner to this project, Shell. The research will take place at the University of Groningen, but if required, the students may be able to use Shell equipment and will be aided by the industrial partners' specific expertise. As such, this research provides a unique opportunity to get introduced to industrial Research & Development, while working on an academic PhD.

Organisation The University of Groningen is a research university, currently in or around the top 100 on several influential ranking lists. The Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) is the largest faculty within the University, offering first-rate education and research in a wide range of science and engineering disciplines.

The mission of the Stratingh Institute for Chemistry is to perform excellent research and teaching in molecular and supramolecular chemistry. Core activities in the chemical sciences such as bioorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, molecular inorganic chemistry and molecular materials chemistry are embedded in the institute. The research programme is focused on synthesis, catalysis, functional materials, bio-organic chemistry/chemical biology and systems chemistry/complex molecular systems.

The research program of the Feringa group is focused on synthetic and physical organic chemistry. Inspired by Nature's principles of molecular assembly, recognition, transport, motion and catalysis, the goal is to exploit the full potential of synthetic chemistry to create new structures and functions. A major part of the research is directed towards dynamic molecular systems, with a focus is on molecular nanoscience, novel responsive materials and photo- pharma exploring biohybrid systems, self-assembly, molecular switches and motors. A second part of the program deals with the development of novel stereoselective synthesis methods and asymmetric catalysis.

Research in the Otten group targets the development of redox-active organics for application as ligands in organometallic chemistry/catalysis, as well as for molecular energy storage. The central goal of the research is to develop sustainable chemistry based on earth-abundant elements to replace the scarce metals currently used in catalysis, batteries and other technologies. In our work, we combine synthetic chemistry, mechanistic studies and electrochemical characterization techniques to develop new electro-active materials.


We are looking for candidates who meet the following requirements:

• a MSc degree in chemistry or a related field • excellent grades • creativity, determination and motivation Experience in electrochemistry, synthetic organic chemistry and/or solid state chemistry is a plus.

Applicants whose first language is not English must submit evidence of competency in English, please see University of Groningen's English Language Requirements for details.

Organisation Conditions of employment

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,770 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,539 gross per month in the fourth and final year, based on a full-time position (1.0 FTE) • a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income • an 8.3% year-end bonus • a position for four years; you will get a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years; prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the next three years is to be expected. • a university PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the successful candidates will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Science and Engineering.

The starting date is flexible, but must be before March 2024


Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, you're requested to upload the following documents:

• a motivation letter stating your motivation to apply for the position and your key qualities relevant for this position • an up-to-date curriculum vitae • diplomas (BSc and Msc) and transcript of records • contact information of two academic references.

You may apply for this position until 29 November 11:59pm / before 30 November 2023 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the electronic application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage: https: // www. strategy/diversity-and-inclusion/

Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): https: // www. and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers: https: //

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


For information you can contact:

  • Prof. Edwin Otten, edwin.otten
  • Dr Anouk Lubbe, a.s.lubbe
  • Prof. Ben Feringa, b.l.feringa
  • Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.

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