NanoGeoScience job opening

Our group is international, with more than 50 researchers from chemistry, physics, engineering, mineralogy, geology, nanoscience, mathematics and biology.  We work together in a dynamic, friendly team to solve questions of relevance to the environment and energy. We combine a unique set of nanoscale techniques with classical methods to understand the fundamental processes that take place at the interface between natural materials and fluids (water, oil, CO2 , O2  etc.) and then we use the new knowledge to help solve society’s challenges. Some of these include developing methods for ensuring safe drinking water, responsible storage of waste, converting CO2 to mineral form, squeezing more oil from exhausted reservoirs in environmentally responsible ways, and understanding the mysteries of how organisms make biominerals, such as bones, teeth and shells. The NanoGeoScience research group is starting a new project called Metal-Aid, funded by the European Commission for Science, with partners in 5 countries (Denmark, Germany, Spain, Britain and Iceand) that come from 6 universities, 4 consulting companies and a government agency. In the next months, we will be filling 2 positions for young scientists to be employed at the University of Copenhagen and a position in cooperation with each of Níras and the Capital Region of Denmark.

  • 4 PhD Fellowships       


Your background can be in a quantitative science or in engineering: physics, chemistry, mineralogy, materials science, geochemistry, hydrogeology, engineering, mathematics or other - it does not matter - but we expect you to be competent with physics, chemistry and mathematics.  An interest in materials and their interactions in nature is important.

No experience is required but keen interest and a drive for solving problems is essential, as is enthusiasm for working in a team with scientists and engineers from other disciplines and other cultures. Facility with English is required and ability with another language is a benefit because the environment is broadly international and there will be considerable travel for meetings and secondments.

To fulfill the European Commission requirements for this position, the candidate must have, or soon receive, a degree that permits him/her to enter a PhD program. This might be a Masters degree, a "Diplome", an Honours Bachelor or 4 year Bachelor, or equivalent.  The applicant must not have a PhD or more than 4 years research experience.

The International Training Network (ITN) program was designed by the European Commission for Science (EC) to enhance mobility and training opportunities so one of the requirements is that young researchers be trained in a country other than their own. Therefore, the candidate must not have lived for more than 12 months during the past 3 years in the country that will host him/her for the project, in this case, in Denmark.

All young researchers will be registered for a PhD program.  Those employed by the nonacademic partners will be registered at the closest university partner. The training program lasts 3 years. The positions will start in the summer and fall of 2016.

The research scope

Metal-Aid's overall research questions include: "Can we develop materials that can be injected into a contaminated aquifer or soil, that can immobilise or degrade the contaminants in situ, to avoid having to remove and treat the water or soil?" Can we understand the molecular level processes that control the behaviour of contaminants and our remediation materials in a way that allows us to design new and better materials?", "Can we learn from natural analogues?", "What conditions are optimal for injection? amd "What can be predicted about the long term effectiveness?"

More information about the Metal-Aid Project can be found on the website

The research team and facilities

Each Metal-Aid partner will host at least one early stage researcher (ESR).  Each partner is represented by one or more senior researchers and a team of experts at senior and junior levels, who will also work with the hosted ESR and with other ESRs who come on secondments (for one or more months) or on visits (for a few days or weeks). The Metal-Aid Network has been constructed to bring together the top researchers from organisations that have a strong reputation for the various aspects of the project. The research will benefit from the close interaction of scientists and engineers across a number of disciplines from universities, research institutions, consulting companies and a government agency.  From our experience with previous networks of this type, we know that one important outcome of Metal-Aid will be a strong European network of people who will be looking forward to continued collaboration in the future and that will contribute highly qualified candidates for positions in the environmental protection and remediation sector.

Metal-Aid is coordinated from the University of Copenhagen (KU; Partner 1), Nano-Science Center, Department of Chemistry. Professor S.L.S. Stipp leads a research group that specialises in using nanotechniques to investigate interface reactivity of fluids such as water, oil, CO2, O2, with natural materials, such as soil, sediment and rocks. The broadly interdisciplinary, international team has expertise and equipment that is leading edge for answering questions about solid and fluid interactions in nature. Assistant Professor D.N. Tobler (geochemist, biomineralisation, crystal growth) is leading the project together with K. Dideriksen (geochemist, surface speciation and isotope fractionation) and K.N. Dalby, (geologist, surface spectroscopy, SEM). They will also guide the ESRs in Copenhagen as well as coordinating the Metal-Aid activities.  The NanoGeoScience group has been working with contaminant removal by green rust for more than 15 years and more recently, by layered double hydroxides.

Other senior researchers who take part in the work of the group, mentoring young scientists and advising PhD students are: Klaus Bechgaard (chemist/physicist), Keld West (chemical engineer), Robert Feidenhans'l (X-ray physicist), Emil Makovicky (mineralogist), Leonid Lakshtanov (physical chemist), Nico Bovet (physical chemist, surface spectroscopy), Tue Hassenkam (atomic force microscopy, adhesion force mapping), Henning Osholm Sørensen (chemist, X-ray scattering, crystallography, high resolution tomography), Martin Andersson (computational physics and chemistry), Marcel Ceccato (chemist, spectroscopy), Juan Diego Rodrigues Blanco (mineralogist, geochemist) and Dirk Müter (physicist, expert with tomography and computational approaches).

The NanoGeoScience laboratories are new, with a combination of state-of-the-art facilities for surface analysis and classical techniques for solid and solution characterisation. The combination of facilities and expertise is unique in the world. In house facilities include: several scanning probe microscopes (SPM) for atomic force microscopy (AFM), atomic force spectroscopy (SFS), chemical force mapping (CFM) and infrared (IR) spectroscopy and mapping with pixels as small as 50 nm, an ultrahigh vacuum chamber specially designed for geochemical samples with X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), several other spectroscopic techniques and low energy electron diffraction (LEED), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDXS), selected area electron diffraction (SAED), field emission gun scanning electron microscopy (FEG SEM) with a focussed ion beam (FIB), a cryo stage and an environmental SEM (ESEM) option, powder X-ray diffraction (XRD), BET surface area, streaming potential, classical wet chemistry methods such as atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS), ion chromatography (IC), potentiometry, radiotracer analysis and so on, controlled temperature and pressure vessels, glove boxes as well as access for high capacity computing through our own computers, the Danish Center for Scientific Computing and a private sector High Speed Computing Grid for computational work. We have frequent beam time for a range of X-ray scattering techniques that we do at synchrotron radiation (SR) facilities such as wide and small angle X-ray scattering (WAXS, SAXS), X-ray reflectivity (XR), micro and nano X-ray tomography (MXT and NXT) and ptychography.

We frequently work closely with representatives from industry and consulting companies, who have many years of experience at the interface between fundamental research and the application of results, and with colleagues from other universities in Europe. Asia and North America. Extensive networks with other research groups, through international collaborations, European Commission projects, a consortium sponsored by a UK EPSRC grant (British Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) and industrial contracts, offer opportunities to learn supplementary skills, to make contacts and to interface with scientists from other laboratories internationally.

In Metal-Aid, we will partner with Níras A/S (NI; Partner 9) for the training of one PhD, ESR 12. Níras is a consulting company with particular interests in remediating sites contaminated with chlorinated solvents.

We will also partner with The Capital Region of Denmark (CRD; Partner 10) for the training of one PhD student, ESR 13. The Capital Region is a government agency that works closely with consulting companies and in this project is particularly interested in chlorinated solvent remediation as well as the fate of heavy metals in the environment. CRD operates a test injection site in the Copenhagen region where the aim is to test some of the materials developed during Metal-Aid.

More information about the role of Níras, the Capital Region and the other Metal-Aid project partners can be found on the website:

Our expectations about you, as a person

The group is dynamic, international and multidisciplinary. It is an exciting environment. We are looking for candidates with motivation, energy and creativity. We expect that you like to be part of a team, that you have a sense of humour, you are a good problem solver, enjoy helping others and that you are also able to work effectively and independently. You are interested in the behaviour of natural materials and are enthusiastic about learning more. You are also excited about fundamental science and applying the results to solve practical problems of importance to society. Because the group and the research questions are interdisciplinary, we are looking for people who are open minded, excited about absorbing new information across disciplines and curious about applying their skills in new ways.

About half of our more than 50 group members are Danish and the rest come from the rest of the world. We are about half women and half men. Daily interaction in our group is in English. The Nano-Science Center and the University of Copenhagen want to have its members reflect the diversity of science and society, so we look forward to your application regardless of your gender, your age, your religion or your ethnic background.

ESR positions

A PhD position in Denmark is 3 years and the funding from the project covers that. The ESRs will have the opportunity to attend biannual meetings of the Metal-Aid Network and to visit other project partners on secondments and guest researcher visits. Frequent interaction during visits, meetings, email and skype conversations will ensure integration between our network members, which is crucial for the successful training and research of Metal-Aid.

Each ESR fellow will have a set of tasks to complete.  The other positions, and how they integrate, are described on the Metal-Aid website:  Below are outlines that provide an overview for the 2 fellows to be employed at the University of Copenhagen and the two who will be registered at KU for their PhD program and some of their research.  

You are welcome to apply for the position(s) that fit your interest and background but if you apply for more than one position, you MUST indicate your order of preference in your cover letter for each position. You may not apply for more than 5 Metal-Aid positions in total. Applications that are unsuccessful for one position but that are qualified for other positions will be forwarded by the Project Coordinator to the Senior Scientists responsible for those positions.  If you do not want your application to be forwarded, please state this in your cover letter.

- ESR 1, hosted at KU, with visits at GFZ, Potsdam, Germany and Níras, Denmark; synthesise and characterise known reactive materials and develop new ones, particularly in the green rust (GR) family of compounds. 

- ESR 4, hosted at KU, visits at the University of Salamanca, Spain and Amphos21, Spain; use DFT modelling to understand the behaviour of the reactive materials and apply the new information to design more effective materials.

- ESR 12, hosted at Níras, visits to KU, the Capital Region of Denmark and Arcadis, Germany; Field site charaterisation and GR injection for chlorinated solvent reduction.

- ESR 13, hosted at the Capital Region of Denmark, visits to KU, GFZ, Potsdam, Germany, Níras, Denmark and Amphos21, Spain; Field site characterisation and GR injection for chlorinated solvent reduction.

To apply for any of these positions, note the position title in your cover letter. If you wish to have your application stand for more than one position, be sure to tell us your priority. Do not apply for more than 5 Metal-Aid positions in total of all of your applications will be disqualified. Be sure you have all of the required components in your application, which are listed at the end of this announcement. Submit your application to the official university website, here.

Employment conditions

The positions will be filled over the summer and work will start in late summer or fall. Please indicate in your application, your preferred start date. A PhD salary in Denmark lasts exactly 36 months.  The PhD program requires taking courses, teaching and research that is equivalent to three first author papers or two first author and two coauthor papers. Attendance at scientific meetings and efforts in public outreach are also required. There are possibilities for a double degree, where a PhD is granted by a university in two countries.

Salary and employment conditions are set by the European Commission for Science and agreements between the Danish Finance Ministry and the relevant trade union and are determined from education and experience. 

The aim of the EC grant is to promote mobility in Europe so the candidate must not have lived in Denmark more than 12 months during the last 3 years. She/he must be in possession of a degree or qualifications that admit him/her to a PhD program at the time the employment contract is written. It is not necessary to have completed this education at the time of application.

Scientists who already have a PhD or doctorate, or who have been employed as a researcher for more than 4 years, are not eligible.

To apply

If you have not already done so, you must read this full announcement. It is critical that you know about the project and that you include in your application, all of the information that is requested.  You can read about Metal-Aid on the web page:

Requirements for applications are listed below. Applications that are incomplete or that have not been prepared with consideration of the information presented here and the listed requirements will not be considered. Please do not use the European Commission standard CV form.  We find that it requests too much detail for topics that are unimportant and misses many of the important aspects of your background.  There are websites and books that explain the basics of a good CV.

Please include information about when you would like to begin or when you expect to complete the education that provides you access to a PhD program (such as a Masters degree, a Diplome, an Honours Bachelor degree, a 4 year Bachelor degree or some other equivalent). You are welcome to apply for more than one of the Metal-Aid positions but please consider carefully if your background is appropriate. You may not apply for more than 5 Metal-Aid positions. If you apply for more than one, you MUST state which positions you are applying for in all applications and you must indicate your priority in your cover letter. If you apply for more than 5 positions, or if you fail to prioritise them, all of your applications will be disqualified.

Applications must include:
i) your CV (and if you have any publications, please include the references for them)
ii) names and contact information for 3 references
iii) a copy of your list of courses and grades from bachelor and masters; a copy is sufficient; an official translation is not necessary at the application stage
iv) a half page about your research interests, and
v) a one page statement (not more) explaining why you would like to join us and what you have to offer the Metal-Aid Project. You may use this statement as your cover letter if you wish.

Your application for University of Copenhagen positions must be submitted directly on the University of Copenhagen web site at

Do NOT attempt to send your application by email. It must be submitted through the official Human Resources site or it cannot be considered.

Deadline for submission for the University of Copenhagen positions is 15 June 2016.

Additional Information

The NanoGeoScience team works in a dynamic, interdisciplinary and international environment as part of the Nano-Science Center. It is in the Materials Chemistry Research Section of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen. The group is housed in the H.C. Ørsted Institute ( ) and has very close collaboration with members of the Niels Bohr Institute for Physics.

For questions about the positions or the Metal-Aid Project in general, visit the or if necessary, contact Project Manager, C. Desplats at desplats@

Do NOT send your application to C. Desplats. Only applications submitted through the official university web site can be considered.  

NanoGeoScience Lab