PhD student/doctoral researcher to investigate water splitting by transition metal oxide clusters with XAS and XMCD in a cryogenic ion trap


PhD student/doctoral researcher (f/m/d) (M.Sc. in Physics or Chemistry) to investigate water splitting by transition metal oxide clusters with XAS and XMCD in a cryogenic ion trap

Reference No.: FG 2019/15

We study the electronic and magnetic properties of transition metal ions and transition metal centers in clusters, organometallic coordination entities, and chelate complexes that we build up and investigate atom by atom or ligand by ligand. To this end, we operate a unique cryogenic ion trap setup for gas-phase soft-x-ray absorption (XAS) and x-ray magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD) spectroscopy on mass-selected ions, as well as a liquid-jet experiment for resonant inelastic x-ray scattering (RIXS) at BESSY II. With both endstations we can examine highly-diluted gas-phase and liquid-phase matter with high sensitivity. We use these techniques to achieve a fundamental understanding of electronic structure, spin state, oxidation state, and valence electron delocalization in coordination entities of 3d and 4f transition elements.


Our department, in cooperation with Universität Freiburg, offers a PhD student/doctoral research position at our location in Berlin-Adlershof, to research on the topic:

‘Interaction of size-selected transition metal oxide clusters and their interaction with water molecules: oxidation states, spin states, structure, and water splitting’

The focus of the work consists in clarifying the interplay of structure and spin states in transition metal oxide clusters as well as their reactivity towards water molecules, with the aim of identifying conditions for efficient water splitting. For the preparation of these complexes, we use methods such as magnetron sputtering, gas-phase ion chemistry, and electrospray ionization. The mass-selected samples are mainly examined in a cryogenic ion trap. The candidate will work closely with a team of scientific staff and doctoral students of the department as well as in cooperation with renowned working groups.


We are seeking for a highly motivated candidate with a strong interest in new methods of experimental x-ray spectroscopy of gas-phase atomic, molecular, and cluster ions. To qualify for this position, the candidates should hold or have

  • a recent M.Sc. degree in physics, chemistry, or a related field
  • expertise with experimental work in one or more of the following: RF ion traps, time-of-flight mass spectrometry, RF multipole ion guides, metal ion sources, electrospray ionization, gas-phase ion chemistry, cryogenics, metal clusters, high vacuum, physics or chemistry of transition metals
  • ideally have gained experience with x-ray absorption spectroscopy, x-ray magnetic circular dichroism spectroscopy, or resonant inelastic x-ray scattering at synchrotron radiation sources or free-electron lasers
  • the ability and willingness to perform cutting-edge research in international teams and to participate in beam times, which also includes occasional night shifts or weekend working hours

What we offer

Fixed term contract for 36 months . The salary is based on the Collective Agreement for the German Public Service (TVöD-Bund).

We particularly welcome applications from women. Preference will be given to handicapped applicants provided equal suitability.

How to apply

We look forward to receiving your application via our application management system by 15.10.2019. For reasons of data protection regulations, we are unfortunately unable to consider applications that reach us by email or by mail in the application process.

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