Umeå universitet, Teknisk-naturvetenskaplig fakultet

The project is carried out in the Thermochemical Energy Conversion Laboratory (TEC-lab) research environment located in the Department of Applied Physics and Electronics at Umeå University. The environment has 30 colleagues working with different aspects of high-temperature chemistry of relevance for carbon neutrality, health aspects, and nutrient recycling. The Department of Applied Physics and Electronics ( has around 100 employees and we conduct strong research in the areas of biomedical engineering, applied optics and energy technology. Last date to apply is October 31st, 2023. Starting date is March 1st, 2024.

Are you interested in learning more? Read about Umeå university as a workplace

Project description
The TEC-lab research environment  (Thermochemical Energy Conversion Laboratory) at Umeå University is looking for an outstanding PhD candidate interested in how the local chemical environment of chromium, Cr, in secondary raw materials like ashes or biochars may impact phosphorus recovery. Cr in fertilizers is regulated both with respect to total concentration and oxidation state as its toxicity depends on its oxidation state. The complex matrix of ash fractions and biochars makes accurate determination of oxidation states for chromium near-impossible with conventional analysis. You will work in a multidisciplinary environment where chemistry, physics, and energy technology meet in advanced material characterization both in laboratory and at synchrotrons.

You will be engaged in advanced material characterization of phosphorus-rich ashes and biochars of relevance for resource recovery. You will develop personal skills in X-ray diffraction, Raman and IR spectroscopy, and predictive global modelling of elements in these complex matrices. You will also be responsible for analysis at Max IV Laboratory using X-ray absorption spectroscopy and fluorescence. 

The investigations are carried out with advanced analytical techniques both at the university but also at the synchrotron MAX IV Laboratory, at Balder beamline. Balder beamline at MAX IV enables analysis of Cr oxidation state in ashes and biochars relevant for phosphorus recovery by X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), which combined with X-ray diffraction and fluorescence gives new insights in the chemistry of Cr in these materials.

The project includes a secondment of 3-12 months at MAX IV laboratory in Lund, Sweden. Additional secondments and/or short stays may be arranged in agreement with the supervisor of the research project. Moreover, you will attend international conferences, participate in periodical project meetings and training schools as well as in specialised courses at different universities to complement your knowledge.  A certain amount of travelling is foreseen in relation to these activities. The project is financed by the PRISMAS project, a Marie Sklodowska-Curie action (MSCA).

To be admitted for studies at third-cycle level you are required to have completed a second-cycle level degree or completed course requirements of at least 240 ECTS credits, of which 60 should be on an advanced level (Master’s level), or equivalent in a relevant subject. The recruitment procedure will follow the Higher Education Ordinance.

In order to fulfill the requirement for special eligibility to be admitted to third cycle studies in applied physics, the applicant must have passed courses in the subject area of physics of at least 120 higher education credits or another field relevant to third cycle studies.

Applicants with master exam in Chemistry, Physics, Material Science, or other fields with relevance for the project which fulfill this requirement are welcomed to apply. The requirements do not need to be fulfilled at the time of application but only at the enrollment. Fluency in written and spoken English is mandatory.

We are looking for a highly motivated, goal-oriented candidate with excellent problem-solving skills, who is passionate about application of fundamental science in challenges related to sustainability and can work both independently and in an interdisciplinary research team. Previous experience and competence with complex sample matrices such as unknown mineral blends, ash or biochar characterization, or experience with X-ray analysis techniques are not obligatory but is an advantage. Since the project includes handling of chemicals and advanced analytical equipment you should have a high sense of responsibility and security awareness.

Terms of employment
The employment is expected to result in a dissertation and a doctoral degree. The main assignment for the doctoral student is thus to be active in research, attend doctoral courses, and possibly participate in teaching of courses at undergraduate level (up to 20 %). The employment is limited to four years at full time studies or up to five years if teaching or other departmental work is performed. The salary is fixed according to the established salary level for doctoral students at Umeå University.

To comply with the mobility rule of the MSCA COFUND programme, you are eligible if you have not resided in Sweden for more than 12 months during the period 2020-10-30 to 2023-10-31 for work or studies as main occupation.

By the employment date (before 2024-03-01) you must have completed courses of at least 240 credits, of which at least 60 credits are from second-cycle courses, have been awarded a Master´s degree or have acquired largely equivalent knowledge in some other way, in Sweden or abroad.

The application should contain:

  • CV in Europass format
  • A two-page cover letter, justifying your interest in the position and how it matches your qualifications as well as the prioritization in case of applying to several PRISMAS positions.
  • at least one reference letter
  • an evidence of English 3 proficiency (minimum CEFR B2 level)
  • Copy of academic records including marks for all coursework with a transcript of diploma in English,
  • and any other document to which you would like to draw attention (details of reference persons, letters of recommendation, etc.)

All documents should be uploaded (pdf) in the job application portal. Exam certificates and other documents on paper should be scanned or photographed before being uploaded. In regard to incomplete applications (especially if lacking the abovementioned documents), the PRISMAS Management reserves the right to exclude them in the selection process, without any additional notification to the applicant. 

The application should be written in English (preferably) or Swedish and submitted via the e-recruitment system Varbi latest 2023-10-31. 

The employment is full-time for 48 months. Starting date: March 1st, 2024.

For further information contact Associate Professor Nils Skoglund,, phone +46 (0)90 786 68 01

We are looking forward to receiving your application!

Type of employment Temporary position
Contract type Full time
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100 %
City Umeå
County Västerbottens län
Country Sweden
Reference number AN 2.2.1-1363-23
  • Nils Skoglund, 090-7866801
Union representative
  • SACO, 090-7865365
  • SEKO, 090-7865296
  • ST, 090-7865431
Published 01.Sep.2023
Last application date 31.Oct.2023 11:59 PM CET

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