Two PhD openings in chemical admixtures for sustainable concrete – Zurich, Switzerland

Posted 6 months ago

The Chair for Physical Chemistry of Building Materials has two openings for PhD positions in chemical admixtures for sustainable concrete. These PhDs are part of a project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and are run in collaboration with the Paul Scherrer Institute, where an additional PhD will be hosted.

Project background

Chemical admixtures are organic compounds, which when added in small amounts in concrete can profoundly modify key properties such as rheology and hydration kinetics. While already playing an essential role around the world in modern concrete, they are called upon to play an even greater one in low carbon concrete. The SNSF project funding these thesis precisely addresses this objective, in particular the design of the alternative molecular structure and the working mechanism in presence of limestone calcined clay cement, a very promising low carbon cement with a large international potential.

Job description

The first PhD will focus on the synthesis and characterization of these polymers, as well as the study of their adsorption behaviour in suspensions of limestone, calcined clays, and cement, all taken individually.

The second PhD will study the effect of these polymers in limestone calcined clay cement, examining aspects of competitive adsorption and its impact on both rheology and hydration kinetics.

We offer

The Chair of Physical Chemistry of Building Materials within the Institute for Building Materials offers many chances for jump-starting an academic or industrial research career in cement and concrete technology, with a strong basis in materials chemistry and rheology. Our highly diverse and international group also offers many networking opportunities through academic societies such as RILEM, industry connections, as well as internal ETH connections. We are committed to diversity by allowing flexibility in working hours, home office, and other measures to ensure team members can adequately perform their roles.

Your profile

For the first PhD, you should hold a Master’s degree in chemistry, chemical engineering or material science for the first PhD. Individuals with experience in polymer synthesis will be preferred.

For the second PhD, you should hold a Master’s degree, in chemical engineering, materials science or civil engineering. Individuals with experience in at least one of the following topics will be preferred: Mineral binders, materials chemistry, and rheology of particulate suspensions.

In either case, good experimental skills are a must. An excellent oral and written level in English is essential. Conversational knowledge of German is an advantage, but the desire to learn it is a must.

As the project involves collaboration between two institutions (ETHZ and PSI) and with various partners (other students, various researchers, industry, etc) good communication skills and willingness to collaborate with other researchers are essential.

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • Cover letter
  • CV
  • Names and contact information (email address) of three references

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Further information about Physical Chemistry of Building Materials can be found on our website. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Dr Timothy Wangler, Tel +41 44 633 2943 or email (no applications).

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