16 September 2020

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For more information, please check our group website: https://www.molina-lopezresear... Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments.

You can apply for this job no later than October 15, 2020 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.

Ref. BAP-2020-678

Apply before 15 October 2020

The work will be performed in the group of “Surface and Interface Engineered Materials” (https://www.mtm.kuleuven.be/onderzoek/siem/SIEM) at the Department of Materials Engineering of KU Leuven, and under the direct supervision of Prof. F. Molina-Lopez (https://www.molina-lopezresearchlab.com/)

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Thermoelectrics (TEs) are energy harvesters that convert waste heat into electrical energy and vice versa (they can use electricity to provide active heating/cooling). Among the different classes of TE materials, organic TE materials present the advantages of being non-toxic, abundant and mechanically flexible. Therefore, organic thermoelectrics (OTEs) are perfect candidates to power wearable autonomous sensors integrated in smart textiles or even in direct contact with the skin. Such systems can find multiple applications in biomedicine and sports.

The use of printing technologies facilitates the manufacture of OTE materials over large-areas. In particular, 3D printing is appealing because it allows the production of vertical structures with high aspect ratio and elaborated shapes. However, organic printed thermoelectrics suffer currently from low performances. Their performance depends not only on the material itself, but also on the way its molecules are arranged in the solid phase. The hypothesis of this project is that the re-arrangement of the molecules in a way that they are all oriented in the same direction (molecular alignment) will lead to a boost in the thermoelectric performance of the organic material.

In this project, the PhD candidate is expected to:

  • Develop a new setup combining micro-extrusion 3D printing with an external electricfield (e-field) that will induce molecular alignment in the printed polymerleading to a boost in its TE performance. This Electric Field Assisted Molecular Alignment (EFAMA) 3D printing technology will also help improving the patterning resolution of the 3D structures.
  • Formulate commercial and customized (semi)conducting polymers with known TE properties as inks with the right rheology to be 3D printed with the developed setup.
  • Evaluate the effect of the printing parameters and e-field characteristics (AC vs DC, frequency and amplitude) on the final nanostructure and printing resolution.
  • Collaborate with other researchers in the group to characterize the nanostructure and TE performance of the printed material to validate the initial project hypothesis.

- Degree: Master degree in one of the following fields (or similar): Materials Science and Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, Process Engineering or Applied Physics.

- Research experience: Master thesis work and/or experience in materials production techniques, material characterization, electrical instrumentation, microfabrication, etc.

- Interests and research profile: Since the research topic is experimental and bridging the fields of materials, electrical and chemical engineering, the applicants are required to have an excellent proven background in engineering sciences and a strong hands-on attitude toward interdisciplinary research with emphasis on electronic polymers processing and characterization. In particular the candidates must:

  • Be keen on instrumentation. They must enjoy building up setups from commercial parts.
  • Enjoy lab work and show strong interest for the link between experiments and fundamental concepts.
  • Be willing to work in close collaboration with the rest of the ERC team in the group and with other departments at KU Leuven (Chemical Engineering, Physics, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering).

- Communication skills: Ability to work both independently and in a team, direct communication style. Fluency in spoken and written English is mandatory!

- Attitude: Only highly motivated and hard-working candidates willing to work in a fast-paced and dynamic environment will be considered.


The project is funded by a European Union H2020 ERC grant. It includes funding to cover competitive salary, lab and conference expenses for a 4-year program towards the completion of a PhD degree at the Department of Materials Engineering of KU Leuven.

KU Leuven is one of the top 50 universities in the world (top 10 in Europe) according to the Times Higher Education ranking, and ranks #7 (top in Europe) in the World’s Most Innovative Universities ranking elaborated by Reuters. It offers an exciting multi-disciplinary research environment, a broad range of training courses for PhD students, and full social and medical insurance.

Located in Belgium, at the heart of Europe, and less than 3 hours by train from cities like Paris, London or Amsterdam, Leuven is a cultural and historical city with a vibrant international student life style.