PhD Candidate In Computational Catalysis Research

Trondheim, Norway
Mar 23, 2021
End of advertisement period
Apr 30, 2021
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

We seek applicants with the expertise and motivation to develop computational modeling of electrochemical reactions (CO2 reduction, glycerol oxidation) based on density functional theory (DFT) and atomistic simulations. We seek a candidate with a strong theoretical background in condensed matter physics / physical chemistry as well as expertise in electronic structure calculations and programming. The candidate should contribute actively to the computational catalysis projects at NTNU by carrying out DFT simulations of electrochemical reactions and participating in method development. The project objectives are threefold: (i) Better understanding of basic electrochemical reactions relevant for renewable energies and carbon recycling (fundamental science), (ii) contributing in materials design for better catalyst materials – in particular in terms of replacing critical metals (sustainability), and (iii) methodology development to extend the existing materials modelling platform (software, algorithms, workflows) towards more complicated (electro)chemical reactions (progress beyond the previous H2020 project,

The position reports to Prof. Jaakko Akola at NTNU.

Duties of the position

The position considers electrochemical simulations at the DFT level by using existing software packages and material modelling platform, and  focuses on the following aspects:

  • Properties of electrode / nanoparticles interface (catalyst) under alkaline conditions
  • Mapping of molecular adsorption on catalyst model structures and search for descriptors
  • Reaction path modelling of CO2 reduction and glycerol oxidation and coupling this information with the descriptors

Method development / testing will be carried out for high-throughput adsorption mapping of CO2, CO, glycerol, etc. on catalyst nanoparticle surfaces under alkaline conditions. Based on the collected data, the candidate will participate in the development of machine learning algorithms for descriptor-based materials screening of improved catalyst materials.

Required selection criteria

The PhD-position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is that you have completed a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in theoretical condensed matter physics/computational chemistry or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic foundation. If you are unable to meet these criteria you may be considered only if you can document that you are particularly suitable for education leading to a PhD degree.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant.

Other required selection criteria:

  • A documented background in computational physics/chemistry is required with a focus on atomistic modelling (density functional theory and/or molecular dynamics).
  • The applicant must have good programming skills in at least one of the following programming languages: C/C++ and/or Python.
  • The position requires spoken and written fluency in the English language. Applicants from non-English-speaking countries outside Europe must document English skills by an approved test.

Preferred selection criteria

  • Experience from machine learning algorithms will be considered as an advantage.

Personal characteristics

The successful candidate should be creative, with a strong ability to work problem oriented. He/she should also enjoy interdisciplinary research and take keen interest in learning and working in a team. 

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 482 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 4 years (with 25% teaching responsibility).

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in physics( within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily. The candidate is also expected to make research visits in our collaborator institutions, Aalto University (Finland) and University of Iceland.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above. 

The application must include:

  • CV, certificates and diplomas
  • Academic works - published or unpublished - that you would like to be considered in the assessment 
  • Name and address of three referees

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. 

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

In accordance with The Public Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Prof. Jaakko Akola, email If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact Magnus Gautvik, e-mail:

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI).

If you are invited for interview you must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number 40/21 when applying.

Application deadline:30.04.21

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

The Faculty of Natural Sciences

The Faculty of Natural Sciences is a key player in national and international research and education programmes in natural sciences and technology. Our research focuses on global challenges in the areas of energy, climate, the environment, food, water, health and welfare. The Faculty consists of eight departments as well as the Faculty Administration.

Deadline 30th April 2021
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Department of Physics

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