PhD Position in Ionic Plastic Crystals for Thermal Energy Storage and Novel Electronics

Trondheim, Norway
17 May 2022
End of advertisement period
15 Jun 2022
Academic Discipline
Physical Sciences, Chemistry
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

Society is undergoing an energy revolution, decisively shifting away from fossil fuels. While much of the focus is on batteries, thermal energy storage will play a major role as complimentary energy storage technology. In addition, the materials used for the electronic components in devices such as capacitors, needs to be evolved to enable recycling and circular economies.

Ionic plastic crystals are supramolecular materials made from small globular organic and inorganic molecular ions. Their rare combination of long-range crystal structure and local molecular orientational freedom enables properties like piezoelectricity and ferroelectricity, and high entropy phase transitions. It is this unique set of properties that makes them extremely interesting for thermal energy storage, caloric cooling devices, transducers, actuators and sensors – all essential components for our energy future.

We have a vacancy for an enthusiastic PhD candidate in ionic plastic crystals for thermal energy storage and novel electronics. The position is at the Functional Materials and Materials Chemistry (FACET) Research group, in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, NTNU Norwegian University for Science and Technology.

This academic position will provide the opportunity for the candidate to complete a doctoral education program and obtain a PhD from NTNU, while undertaking professional development activities within the broad fields of research and materials science.

This research project will explore the landscape of ionic plastic crystal chemistry and engineering, with particular focus on developing sound methodologies for modifying the functional properties and the thermodynamic characteristics of the phase transitions. As a PhD candidate you will work on the novel area of compositional engineering in ionic plastic crystals and actively contribute to this growing field of research.

The PhD candidate will pursue experimentally based materials science where they will develop new compositions, design synthesis methodology, and perform detailed structural, thermodynamic and electrical property characterization.

Candidates will be required to perform all sample synthesis themselves in the chemistry laboratory, using mostly wet chemical approaches to crystallite precipitation. This will be followed by detailed analysis with X-ray diffraction and total scatter experiments, both ex situ and in situ as a function of temperature and electric field, performed in the lab and at international user-based synchrotron radiation facilities. Complimentary studies with Raman and Infrared spectroscopy will also be used to help decode the local structure. The use of differential scanning calorimetry will be an essential tool mapping thermodynamic changes across the phase transitions in the different materials. Finally impedance spectroscopy and additional high field leakage current and ferroelectric switching measurements will be employed to characterize additional functional properties as a function of composition. The Candidate will therefore develop a range of skills that will make them a highly accomplished supramolecular chemist as well as an expert in structural and thermodynamic characterization.

Duties of the position

  • The Candidate will be required to plan and carry out independent scientific inquiries into the synthesis-structure-property relationship of ionic plastic crystals.
  • The candidate will collect, analyse, and report thorough data sets pertaining to materials structure and properties using a wide variety of experimental techniques.
  • The candite will work extensively on oral, written, and visual communication of science and will be expected to represent FACET by presenting their research at international conferences.
  • The candidate will be encouraged to contribute to the scientific and learning environment at NTNU through participation in laboratory or equipment management, teaching activities and organisation of group social events.
  • The candidate will be required to mentor master students in the laboratory and assist in the planning and undertaking of the research activities of junior scientists (undergraduates).

Required selection criteria

  • You must have a professionally relevant background in chemistry, materials science or nanotechnology.
  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree program, where 120 credits are obtained at master's level.
  • You must have a strong academic background from your previous studies and an average grade from the master's degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU's grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education.
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty's doctoral program 
  • You must have good written and oral English language and communication skills.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant  

Preferred selection criteria

  • A candidate that is interested in moving outside of Norway for an extended research visit of 3 to 6 months with a focus on strengthening the international scientific network of the research team.
  • A candidate with knowledge of crystal growth methods or hybrid supramolecular material synthesis will be preferred.
  • Prior experience with organic or inorganic materials synthesis, and/or materials structural characterization techniques is highly desirable.
  • Prior knowledge in organic or inorganic chemistry will be highly advantageous.
  • Candidates showing a desire to learn Norweigian or with Scandinavian language skills will be considered a plus.
  • Candidates with an interest in teaching or taking wider responsibilities within the laboratories are also desired.

Personal characteristics

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified for the PhD position, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability. The candidate should:

  • Be comfortable working independently to solve complex problems and take responsibility for their own progress.
  • Be a strong communicator, able to share ideas, experiences and information in formal and informal settings.
  • Be a team player, able to see the value of contributing to the team around them as well as working for personal pursuits.
  • Be able to build meaningful professional relationships in the workplace.
  • Foster mutual respect among colleagues, both at NTNU and in international work environments.
  • Be someone with many varied interests, passions, and personal pursuits outside of work. FACET prides itself on promoting balance and diversity in life, and an individual who can contribute to the knowledge of the group in all aspects of life is highly desired.

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 491 200 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 3 years with the possibility for extension to 4 years if the candidate wishes to be involved with teaching or laboratory management duties.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Materials Science and Engineering 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.

About the application

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

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: 

  • A cover letter describing your motivation for the position, a summary of scientific experience and how the applicant sees their background as suitable.
  • A draft research proposal (1 or 2 pages) for the PhD study, presenting ideas for the PhD-work on “Ionic plastic crystals” based on the project description given in this advertisement. This proposal will be neither final nor binding for the project.
  • CV, certificates and diplomas
  • Transcripts and diplomas for bachelor's and master's degrees. If you have not completed the master's degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted.
  • Name and address of three referees
  • Documentation of English Language proficiency
  • Publications or other relevant research (work if you have it).

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor's and master's education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here. If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

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 and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates. 

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 assoc. Prof. Julian Walker, telephone +4790180646, email: If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact Marie Kristiansen, 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 NVD-186/22 when applying.

Application deadline: 15.06.2022

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.

Department of Materials Science and Engineering  

We are Norway's leading educational and research environment in materials engineering, materials chemistry and materials science.  In collaboration with business and industry, we are a driving force for the development of innovative materials as well as new applications and manufacturing processes.  Activities in our disciplines are vital for the green shift. The Department of Materials Science and Engineering is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

Deadline 15th June 2022
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service

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