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2-year postdoc position on Laser spectroscopic analysis of N2O clumped isotopes in Dübendorf

EMPA (European Master of Public Administration Consortium) is a network of European schools, that offer master programs in public administration.


Nitrous oxide (N2O) is the third most important greenhouse gas emitted today. Its sources are disperse and highly variable, which makes source studies and thus mitigation challenging. Measuring the doubly substituted, or “clumped”, isotopes of N2O will add new and unique dimensions to our ability to fingerprint and constrain the N2O biogeochemical cycle.

Empa is at the forefront of clumped isotope research by mid-IR laser spectroscopy. Within this SNSF funded project you will advance the performance of a recently developed laser spectrometer to simultaneously analyse four singly substituted and three clumped (15N15N16O, 15N14N18O, 14N15N18O) N2O isotopocules in gas samples. Together with a PhD student you will explore, how different N2O clumped isotope signatures reflect changes in substrate identity and reaction conditions.

We are looking for a highly motivated postdoc experienced in trace gas analysis by optical spectroscopy and / or isotope analysis.

Your tasks
  • Design, setup and Interface an automated inlet system with a quantum cascade laser (QCL) spectrometer for rapid sample – reference switching.
  • Integrate a mole-fraction calibration approach using high-accuracy gravimetric gas mixtures and validate the performance by thermal equilibration and reference materials with wide spread in delta values.
  • Establish a process workflow for automated preconcentration and spectroscopic analysis, optimize for temporal resolution and evaluate possibility for sample recovery.
  • Characterise and validate the analytical platform in proof-of-concept experiments (e.g. Knudsen diffusion).
  • Present the scientific results at project meetings, conferences and in publications.
Required qualifications
  • PhD degree in physics, chemistry, environmental sciences or a related discipline.
  • A strong background in laser spectroscopy and / or isotope analysis.
  • Hands-on experience in the setup of customized scientific instrumentation and automation of measurement techniques.
  • Data analysis using MATLAB or R.
  • Ability to communicate scientific results in peer-reviewed journals and conferences.
  • Fluency in English is required; basic knowledge of German is a plus.

We are offering a multifaceted and challenging position for 2 years (with the possibility of extension), and the potential to provide breakthrough results, in a modern research environment with excellent infrastructure. Working place will be Empa in Dübendorf.

Appointments can start as soon as possible, preferably before summer 2022. All applications received before 15 February 2022 will receive full consideration.

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