March 1, 2021

ESR 10

Structure, dynamics and function of nanoparticles and clusters for methanol synthesis studied by electron microscopy

Prof. Sara bals


  • To investigate dynamic response to changes of particle size, structure and composition in gas atmosphere and liquid environment, using in situ TEM
  • To correlate composition, chemisorption measurements and activity data for cluster-based catalysts prepared by network partners

Expected Results

  • Detailed structural and morphological change of clusters such as CuZn and NiGa under reaction conditions
  • Identification of new methanol catalysts that are more efficient at a lower temperature and pressure


  • Catchy Outreaching Events

Planned Secondments

  • DTU for training in production of clusters and characterization with complementary techniques
  • PSI for training in XAFS measurements to identify in operando oxidation states of clusters
  • FETI for training in computational modelling of the structures and activity of supported nanoparticles and clusters

Job Announcement

Doctoral Student / Early Stage Researcher (ESR) position

The Faculty of Science/Department of Physics of the University of Antwerp is seeking to fill a full-time (100%) vacancy in the research group Electron Microscopy for Materials Research (EMAT), in the framework of the MSCA European Training Network CATCHY. ESR 10 hosted at the University of Antwerp is expected to study using advanced in-situ Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) the structure, dynamics and function of nanoparticles and clusters for methanol synthesis.
Job description
·      You prepare a doctoral thesis in the field of in-situ TEM.
·      You publish scientific articles related to the research project of the assignment.
·      You contribute to outreach and research at EMAT under the framework of the CATCHY project.
·      Secondments are planned at the following partners: DTU, PSI, FETI.
Profile and requirements
·      You hold a bachelor and master degree in Physics, Materials Science, Chemistry or equivalent.
·      You can submit outstanding academic results.
·      Foreign candidates are highly encouraged to apply.
·      Your academic qualities comply with the requirements stipulated in the university’s policy.
·      You are quality-oriented, conscientious, creative and cooperative.
·      You have a good knowledge of English.
·      You are able to work in a team and flexible to collaborate efficiently with all the involved partners.
·      Experience with the use of TEM will be highly appreciated.
We offer
·        A doctoral scholarship for a period of one year, with the possibility of renewal for a further two-year period after positive evaluation;
·        The start date of the scholarship will be between May 1st and July 1st, 2021;
·        The successful candidates will receive an attractive salary in accordance with the MSCA regulations for Early Stage Researchers. The exact (net) salary will be confirmed upon appointment and is dependent on local tax regulations and on the country correction factor (to allow for the difference in cost of living in different EU Member States). The salary includes a living allowance, a mobility allowance and a family allowance (if applicable). The guaranteed PhD funding is for 36 months (i.e. EC funding) but additional funding could be possible for completing the PhD degree depending on the local Supervisor;
·      A dynamic and stimulating work environment.
·          Applications may be submitted online below until the closing date 31st January 2021 and should include a copy of your CV and a cover letter. Please check the employment eligibility and conditions before applying.
·        A pre-selection will be made amongst the submitted applications.
·        For questions about the profile and the description of duties, please contact Prof. Sara Bals, +32 32653284, Sara.Bals @