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PhD position in x-ray microscopy to explore catalyst structure and function

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The “X-ray Microscopy in Catalysis” (XRM) group strives to understand the structure and function of heterogeneous catalytic materials and processes – promoting efficient chemical synthesis, energy conversion technologies, and emissions control. To achieve this, we perform advanced X-ray imaging studies at synchrotron light sources – allowing deep structural analysis across multiple dimensions (2D/3D), hierarchical length scales (nm to mm) and under realistic reaction conditions (in situ/operando). This allows us to develop a holistic view of catalysts and functional materials in action.  We are currently seeking a motivated and proactive researcher to join our group in a new project in cooperation with the synchrotron light sources DESY (Hamburg, Germany) and MAX IV Laboratory (Lund, Sweden), which operate some of the most advanced X-ray imaging infrastructure in the world. As part of the XRM group, you will:

  • synthesise heterogeneous catalytic materials and study catalytic processes in emissions control (e.g. de-NOx) and chemical energy storage (e.g. CO2 valorisation)
  • learn to harness advanced X-ray imaging tools such as tomography, supported by X-ray absorption spectroscopy, fluorescence, diffraction, and other characterization methods
  • become well-equipped to tackle complex data analysis problems across the field of catalysis and materials science, which is invaluable for pursuing a career in research or industry
  • prepare research proposals, perform experiments at synchrotron radiation sources worldwide together with the project partners
  • assist in microscopy and data analysis tasks for the group

Research activities are based at KIT, with the option of an extended stay at the German Synchrotron Facility DESY (Hamburg, Germany – 1 year). Measurement campaigns are also planned at other synchrotron facilities. Essential to the project is willingness to travel, engage with diverse research fields, and thrive in a multinational and interdisciplinary work environment. The project will be supervised by Dr. Thomas Sheppard (KIT), and the successful candidate is expected to obtain a PhD in the field of Chemistry. Please note this offer is not for a postdoc position.

Personal qualification

You hold a very good Master’s degree in Chemistry/Physical Chemistry/Materials Science, focusing on at least one of these topics:

(i) heterogeneous catalysis (e.g. testing, synthesis)
(ii) characterization methods (e.g. spectroscopy, diffraction)
(iii) X-ray science (e.g. microscopy, tomography)

Ideally you have a strong affinity for experimentation, enjoy complex data problems (particularly imaging data), have a solid background in physical chemistry, and are keen to expand your knowledge in an interdisciplinary work environment.

Fluency in written and spoken English is essential, knowledge of German is optional. Programming skills (e.g. Python, MATLAB) are highly desirable. Project management, organisation, and communication skills are advantageous.


The remuneration occurs on the basis of the wage agreement of the civil service in TV-L E13, depending on the fulfillment of professional and personal requirements.

Starting date

as soon as possible

Contract duration

3 years, with possibility for extension

Application up to

March 15, 2022

Contact person in line-management

For further information, please contact Dr. Thomas Sheppard, email: [email protected].


Please send your application including a cover letter, your CV, and all certificates/references in electronic form to Dr. Thomas Sheppard, email: [email protected]. Please refer to


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