Principal investigator for electrochemical CO2 reduction with novel nano-structured electrodes

07 Mar 2023
End of advertisement period
26 Apr 2023
Contract Type
Full Time

Searching for creative top-talent with the ambition to shape the R&D towards impact.

What you will do

Global warming because of the industrial age CO2 emissions is a prime societal concern with a growing societal awareness calling for policy measures. A behavioral change is important, but technology also needs to come with solutions to reduce emissions and, hopefully, even reverse it. Indeed, with a rapidly growing world population and continuous increase in energy demand, it is understood that a lone switch to renewable energies will not suffice to keep the temperature rise well below +2 C above pre-industrial levels. In addition, carbon dioxide is not only a product of energy by combustion, but a waste product of chemical industry as well. For example, the cement industry is responsible for 10% of carbon emissions, with about half of that as by-product of the lime production process itself. Therefore, a technology that can convert CO2 into valuable products by electrolysis, would turn CO2 into a valuable precursor and give it economic value. At imec we are looking into concepts for simultaneous capture and conversion of CO2 directly from air or point sources such as factory chimneys to enable residential and industrial installations for local production of renewable fuels and synthesis of fine chemicals. On a large scale, it will help to achieve CO2 circularity and could be one of the technological instruments to eventually reverse the trend with "negative emissions". The electrochemical reduction of CO2 powered by renewable energies has the potential to provide valuable carbon compounds such as CO, formic acid and methanol (C1 compounds) as well as short-chain hydrocarbons like ethylene or ethanol (C2 compounds).
We are hiring a researcher that will act as the principal investigator of the CO2 activities at imec. In this role, you are responsible for the technical coordination and research planning of our R&D on novel gas diffusion electrodes for integration in a membrane electrode assembly (MEA). Critical for success will be to work closely with peer researchers and the PhD students in imec s energy department to transfer know-how from their activities to yours, creating impact in industrial- and bilateral-projects. As a content provider, you regularly interact with the management team and our partners. For the CO2 activity to sustainably grow, you are strongly involved in the definition of new research projects and in the writing of project proposal texts. Key in these endeavors is that you protect the intellectual property being developed in the team and that you create visibility when applicable by e.g., authoring high-impact publications. You re working at least half of your time in the lab although this percentage will change when the activity grows in the coming years, requiring you to focus more on coordination and follow-up of the work.

We thus expect you to:

  • Deliver inventive contributions to the development and optimization of gas-diffusion-electrodes and their integration in MEA-stacks.
  • Provide content and direction to the research planning which the goal to create industrial and societal impact via e.g. industrial partnerships.
  • Set-out the experimental plans to timely achieve the (project) targets, and to discuss and defend these plans with other team members and scientific management.
  • Timely and accurately execute and analyze experiments in collaboration with other team members, including researchers, PhD students and process assistants.
  • Follow-up and report of project tasks with periodic internal and external review meetings.
  • Create scientific output in the form of e.g. high-impact publication and assist the imec patent office in protecting the team s intellectual property by providing context and content.
  • Take a prominent role in the scientific and technical work in the lab environment.

What we do for you

We offer you the opportunity to join one of the world s premier research centers in nanotechnology at its headquarters in Leuven, Belgium. With your talent, passion and expertise, you ll become part of a team that makes the impossible possible. Together, we shape the technology that will define the society of tomorrow.

We are committed to being an inclusive employer ( and proud of our open, multicultural, and informal working environment with ample possibilities to take initiative and show responsibility. In everything we do, your future colleagues are guided by the imec values of passion, excellence, connectedness and integrity. We commit to supporting and guiding you in this process; not only with words but also with tangible actions. Through, 'our corporate university', we actively invest in your development to further your technical and personal growth. 

We are aware that your valuable contribution makes imec a top player in its field. Your energy and commitment are therefore appreciated by means of a market appropriate salary with many fringe benefits.