PhD Scholarship Position in Electrochemical Alloy Formation for Mercury Decontamination

Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden is inviting excellent candidates to apply for a PhD position in sustainable energy. Successful candidate will have funding to work and study for five years in Sweden. This position is closed on February 16, 2020.

Information about the research/the project/the division

The main theme at Chemical Physics is development of sustainable energy systems by using heterogeneous catalysis for alternative fuel production, emission control, energy storage, fuel cells, and water cleaning. The research is interdisciplinary with strong connections between fundamental and applied science. Chemical Physics is a dynamic and international environment that strives for scientific excellence through teamwork and joint experimental and theoretical efforts. The activity within heterogeneous catalysis is a part of the national Competence Centre for Catalysis at Chalmers.

The experimental activities at Chemical Physics focus on nanofabrication of well-defined materials, physical characterization using a range of microscopy and spectroscopy techniques such as SEM, TEM, AFM, XPS, XRD, EDX etc., and measurements of chemical and electrochemical reactions with high precision. Our goal is to bridge both length and time scales to understand reactions at an atomic level. Close collaboration with theoretical efforts within the group enables us to unravel fundamental reaction mechanisms and processes.

The Nuclear Chemistry/Industrial Materials Recycling research group is specialized in aqueous chemistry and solvent extraction, being used for both recycling of materials and nuclear applications. A wide array of techniques are used and available for both experimental party as well as quantification of work, for example: hydrometallurgical experimental set-up (vibroshakers, mixer settlers, high-speed centrifuges), ICP-MS, ICP-OES, etc.

Mercury pollution in lakes and rivers is a major environmental problem worldwide. Mercury is a heavy metal that accumulates in the food chain and is toxic to all living organisms. Although there are today strict regulations regarding the handling of mercury, mercury is still emitted from industries. There are many places that have already been polluted and the fall of airborne mercury in Sweden from other countries is large. Today, there are many areas in our nature where the amount of mercury reaches toxic concentrations. A well-known problem is the high levels of mercury in marine fish. In industries where mercury is used or released, e.g. in the chemical industry, mining, recycling, purification and decontamination, there is a great need for new and better methods for purifying mercury water.

Major responsibilities

The successful candidate will take several important steps to increase the understanding of and opportunities to capture mercury from contaminated water. The methods used are based on electrochemistry to form alloys between mercury and a stable metal on the surface of an electrode. With a platinum electrode it is possible to both capture mercury ions and bind them in a very stable electrochemical alloy. Once a thick layer of alloy is formed, the process can be reversed, and the mercury deposited in a safe repository and the electrode can be regenerated and reused.

This project will focus on the reaction mechanism and the rate-determining step in the alloy formation. Well-controlled electrodes, with careful control over the number of platinum atoms and the structure of the surface will be fabricated and evaluated. By following the uptake of mercury during purification experiments in well-controlled aqueous solutions, we will be able to determine the rates, kinetics, reactions and get indications of possible mechanisms. The experimental results will also be used to develop computational models based on quantum mechanical calculations, where possible mechanisms and steps can be theoretically analyzed. With an iterative work between experiment and theory, we will be able to understand and determine both the reaction mechanism and the rate-determining step in the process with high accuracy.

Full-time temporary employment.The position is limited to a maximum of five years.


(1) MSc in Physics, Chemistry or Materials Science

(2) MSc not older than two years

(3) Expertise in experimental work in Physics, Chemistry or Materials Science.

(4) Good communication skills in written and spoken English

(5) Able to work independently and take responsibility for progress and quality of the project

Chalmers offers a cultivating and inspiring working environment in the dynamic city ofGothenburg.

Read more aboutworking at Chalmersand ourbenefitsfor employees.

Application procedure

The application should be marked with Ref 20190729 and written in English.

CV: (Please name the document: CV, Family name, Ref. number)


Other, for example previous employments or leadership qualifications and positions of trust.

Two references that we can contact.

Personal letter: (Please name the document as: Personal letter, Family name, Ref. number)

- Introduce yourself

- Describe your previous research fields and main research results

- Describe your future goals and future research focus

Copies of bachelor and/or master's thesis.

Attested copies and transcripts of completed education, grades and other certificates, eg. TOEFL test results.

Application deadline: February 16, 2020

Associate Professor Bjrn Wickman, Chemical Physics,



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