Empa - the place where innovation starts

Empa is the research institute for materials science and technology of the ETH Domain and conducts cutting-edge research for the benefit of industry and the well-being of society.

The Laboratory for Advanced Analytical Technologies has an opening for a

Postdoc on Soft X-ray Laser Microanalysis of CO2 Sorbent Materials

Our Lab investigates fundamental and applied problems bridging between chemical innovation and industrial solutions. The core focus is the development and deployment of spectroscopy methods of enabling character for materials science.

A very promising process to reduce greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere by direct air capture (DAC) relies on CO2 sorbents, such as amine-functionalized polymers, which are able to bind CO₂ from air, reversibly forming carbamates. The reversible uptake capacity and kinetics depends on the number of active sites in the material and the accessibility of them. Unfortunately, many concurrent, not fully understood, micro-chemical processes cause the amine/carbamate system to degrade, with as high as 40% loss of DAC efficiency.

To investigate the amine degradation you will set up a unique soft X-ray laser coupled to gas chromatography mass spectrometry and microanalyze the chemical pathways of degradation. Laser desoption ionization coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry offers the possibility to analyze pristine and "spent" sorbent materials in situ, with a spatial resolution of approx. 1 micron. Lateral and depth-resolved mappings of the organic compounds at given time-interval will permit to track the dynamics of the oxidative process.


Your tasks

  • Operate and validate a setup for soft X-ray laser delivery to a GC-Mass Spectrometer. Utilize complementary methods for the validations, such as Raman, GC-MS, HAXPES, synchrotron spectroscopy.

  • Carry out spatially resolved micro-analysis on materials for the sorption of CO2.

  • Coordinate and participate in industrial projects, Write peer-reviewed publications and promote the results at international conferences

Your skills

  • PhD in chemistry with excellent grades in organic analytial chemistry

  • Experience in experimental work and the motivation to independent scientific work

  • Some Programming skills for big data processing  (eg. Matlab, R, etc)

  • Fluency in English is mandatory; basic oral expression skills in German are of advantage


We are offering a multifaceted and challenging position in a modern research environment with excellent infrastructure. The position is available from September 2020 and will remain open until filled. The position is appointed for 2 years and with excellent outcomes and output may be extended.

For further information about the position please contact PD Dr. Davide Bleiner davide.bleiner@empa.ch and visit our websites www.empa.ch/web/s502 and Empa-Video

We look forward to receiving your online application including a letter of motivation, CV, diplomas with transcripts and contact details of two referees. Please upload the requested documents through our webpage. Applications via email will not be considered.

Empa, David Heusser, Human Resources, Ueberlandstrasse 129, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland.