4 PhD students in the field of Physics and Materials Science (M/F)

Reference : MRT-PRIDE-2017

Type: PhD Student
Contract type: Fixed term contract
Duration: 12 months (+24 months + potentially 12 months extension)
Place: Belvaux



The MRT Department’s research and technology activities target two main areas: nanomaterials and nanotechnology, and sustainable polymeric and composite materials.

Nanomaterials/Nanotechnology Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) unit addresses specific technology fields like transducing materials for sensors and actuators, photocatalysis and energy harvesters/suppliers, transparent electronics and conductive/optical nanocomposites, point-of-care and drug delivery and relies on state-of-the-art clean-room laboratory facility.

Internal research is pushed towards the "proof-of-concept" based on simple prototyped devices. In parallel, new synthesis processes and nanomaterials integration are developed in close collaboration with leading equipment manufacturers and OEMs in order to achieve unique elaboration capabilities and materials properties leveraging the innovation of advanced products. Nanomaterials/Nanotechnology RDI unit executes competitive projects, industry-funded projects and European projects. Nanomaterials/Nanotechnology unit empowers innovation via three expertise areas: 1) engineering of multi-phased nanostructures/powders 2) conductive, transparent and optically-responsive nanomaterials 3) fundamentals of ferroic materials.




Several subjects are available:


P.I Jorge INIGUEZ - PhD student in theory and computational design of functional oxides

(ref: MRT-2017-002)


The objective of this project is to characterize the ferroelectric phase that has been reported to exist in compounds based on HfO2, trying to identify conditions (epitaxial strain and thickness in the case of a thin film; composition and doping in both bulk and thin-film cases) in which it may be made robustly stable. Through simulations, we will also look for ways to control some key features, such as the ferroelectric transition temperature and response to external fields, and thus optimize the performance of the materials as ferroelectrics, dielectrics or piezoelectrics. We will follow strategies to that effect that have been very successful in the field of ferroelectric perovskite oxides, and which, if successful, may permit the development of a new generation of electro-mechanical sensors and actuators directly compatible with silicon-based technologies. Our basic research tool will be quantum-mechanical computational methods, especially techniques that permit accurate medium- and large-scale atomistic simulations.


- Master degree in condensed-matter physics, physics, quantum chemistry, materials science, mathematics, or related area

- Excellent academic record

- Strong taste for theoretical and simulation work.

- Familiarity with at least one language for scientific coding (python, fortran, C++) is an asset

- Fluent in English, both spoken and written


P.I Torsten GRANZOW - PhD student in “Reliability of lead-free polar oxide materials in transducer applications”

(ref: MRT-2017-003)

The successful candidate is expected to produce samples with the support of the LIST Powder Lab, devise fatigue strategies, perform fatigue cycling and measure the electro-mechanical properties. For other measurements, support is available in the form of the MRT Characterization Platform. The candidate will analyse the data based on existing knowledge about fatigue in polar oxides and improve these models on the base of the experimental results. He/she will then devise changes in the material composition and/or fabrication process to reduce fatigue effects. As usual, the candidate is expected to support valorisation of the project results by presentations at scientific conferences, peer-reviewed publications or patents.


- Master degree or equivalent in Materials Sciences, Solid State Physics, Crystallography, Materials Chemistry or a related field

- Experience in the electrical and/or mechanical caracterisation of bulk dielectric materials (ideally piezo- or ferroelectric polar oxides) is a considerable advantage

- Hands-on experience in powder oxide processing is desirable

- Knowledge about other characterization techniques (SIMS, Raman, XRD, SEM etc.) is helpful, but not essential

- A track record of publications (e.g resulting from the Master thesis) would underline the candidiate’s quality

- English mandatory, French and/or German a plus



P.I Emmanuel DEFAY – PhD student in Energy-Efficient heat pump based on caloric materials

(ref: MRT-2017-005)


 For this PhD, we intend to study EC materials and their efficiency. To do so, an EC prototype will be built. The starting point will be to take advantage of state-of-the-art EC components available at LIST. Our first trials showed that it is possible to make a prototype out of this EC effect [Sette et al., APL Materials 2016]. We are now among the very few teams in the world able to make an EC fridge. An important part of the PhD will be devoted to the characterization of the EC effect of different materials. The samples will come from our ceramic lab – that the PhD student can access – and also from our international network. LIST owns an excellent characterization platform and has a lab dedicated to electrocaloric characterization. Regarding the thermodynamic part of the work, the PhD will be strongly involved in the development of the prototype, that is to say design, fabrication and testing. This prototype will potentially implement external modules in order to improve the overall efficiency by recycling electrical energy. A dielectric fluid will be used to exchange heat into the prototype. Trials of different thermodynamic cycles will be achieved in order to optimize the energy saving strategy. Developing on-going collaborations with the University of Cambridge (UK) and the University of Victoria (Canada) will be part of this PhD.


- Master in Physics or Materials Science of Thermodynamics or Electrical Engineering

- A pronounced taste for experimental science is required

- English is mandatory



P.I Mael GUENNOU – PhD student in electronic properties of multiferroic perovskites

(ref: MRT-2017-006)

There has been recently a renewed interest for oxide materials with so-called “photo-ferroelectric properties”. These materials combine photovoltaic properties, which could be useful in photovoltaics and photocatalysis, with the ferro- and piezoelectric properties that are amply used already in a variety of devices. However, their electronic levels and structures are poorly known as compared to traditional semiconductors, notably due to specific experimental difficulties related to their low conductivity, which impairs studies of their electronic structures by conventional techniques. The objective of the project is therefore to contribute to the understanding of the electronic properties (band-gap, electronic defect levels…) of ferroic oxides. Materials under study will be chosen among ferroic materials with band gaps in the visible range, notably bismuth- and/or iron-based perovskites (2-3 eV). The main experimental techniques will be: Raman spectroscopy, optical measurements, and photoluminescence. Particular emphasis will be laid on an original technique based on resonant Raman scattering recently developed in the lab.


- Master degree in solid state physics, semiconductor physics or a relevant field

- Excellent academic record

- Experience in at least one technique involved in the project, or in experimental semiconductor physics, would be an asset

- Strong taste for experimental work is required

- Fluent in English




Application file

  • A CV
  • A motivation letter (please mention the project reference : MRT-2017-002, MRT-2017-003, MRT-2017-005, MRT-2017-006)
  • Academic record
  • Any other document you may think useful to be considered in your application fill





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Dr Emmanuel DEFAY
Dr Torsten GRANZOW