Post-doctoral position at CEA-Grenoble (France)
“Supramolecular organization of active layers for Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells”

Context.
Carbon-free energies are a major world challenge for future generations. In this
context, PEMFC (Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell) is a promising and not
polluting alternative to classical thermal engine. Numerous car manufacturers are
developing commercial hydrogen vehicles using PEMFC but mass production
requires reducing their cost while increasing performance and life time. As PEMFCs
operating at higher current densities are foreseen for automotive application, one
main challenge is to improve O2 diffusion in the active layers, currently limited by the
low affinity between O2 and the ion-conducting ionomer around the catalytic sites.
Description of the subject.
The aim of the post-doc is to develop a new nanostructured ionomer to optimize the
conflicting properties of ionic conduction and O2 diffusion. A thermodynamically
encoded (liquid crystals) structure will be developed, forming two main phases, i.e.
phase 1 is ion-conducting in the hydrated state, and phase 2 is a solvent for O2.
The liquid crystals structure on the surface of Pt and in the operational active layer
will be studied by multi-scale characterizations (SAX(N)S, EIS, QENS). This will allow
to establish the structure-property relationship of the new ionomer within the active
layer and to propose ways of improvement of molecular design.
The post-doctoral student will have to ii) synthesize ionic liquid crystal molecules, ii)
characterize the structure of resulting mesophases as a function of concentration and
temperature (phase diagram by scattering techniques), iii) measure the key
properties of ionomer (ionic conduction, O2 diffusion), iv) select promising solutions
and test them in an operating cell.

Hosting teams.
The project will be conducted at CEA-Grenoble (www.cea.fr) in close collaboration
between the fuel cell and chemistry laboratories of LITEN and the fundamental
research institute INAC. CEA/LITEN (www.liten.fr) is a world-recognized institute for
alternative energies, especially PEMFCs. INAC (www.inac.fr) is a joint CEA-UGA
institute with expertise in the multi-scale characterization of nanomaterials. The
applicant will evolve in a multidisciplinary environment and interact with the chemists
and physicists of LITEN and INAC.

This 12 months post-doctoral fellowship shall start in December 2017.

Applicant profile.
We are looking for a physico-chemist with background in materials science,
motivated by the design and characterization of advanced soft matter materials.
Previous working experience in energy conversion research would be a strong asset.
Experience in scattering techniques would be appreciated but is not mandatory if the
applicant has a strong interest in physical characterization.
Application: Please send a CV, a cover letter and two recommendation letters.
Contacts: joel.pauchet@cea.fr; sandrine.lyonnard@cea.fr; lionel.picard@cea.fr