Postdoc: Resolving Surface Reactions in Plasma Catalysis (SURPLAS)

Work Activities

Surface reactions live in plasma environment

This postdoc position connects the two active research fields of surface science and plasma chemistry. The project aims to understand the active state of a surface live during plasma exposure using a unique methodology developed by our research group. It is part of a fully funded Starting Grant from the European Research Council entitled “Resolving surface reactions in plasma catalysis: Towards rational catalyst design (SURPLAS)” at the Advanced Research Center for Nanolithography (ARCNL). 


Renewable energy is key to tackling climate change and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. The intermittent supply of renewable energy hampers its efficient usage and creates a pressing need for innovative energy conversion approaches. Energy-to-fuel conversion using plasma-assisted catalytic conversion is highly promising for producing urgently needed fuels from greenhouse gases. In plasma catalysis, reactants are activated in a plasma discharge, allowing for remarkable efficiencies beyond the limits of thermal catalysis. The catalyst surface defines the reaction pathway and selectivity, and is thus key in catalyst design. However, at present the active state of catalyst surfaces in plasma is unknown, limiting the impact of plasma catalysis by inhibiting the design of dedicated plasma catalysts.

Project goal

In the SURPLAS project, we will determine the surface reaction mechanisms of catalysts in plasma and demonstrate the rational design of plasma catalysts for CO2 hydrogenation. You will determine the active state of metal surfaces live in plasma environment and analyze the role of the individual plasma species in the reaction. Using infrared absorption spectroscopy and photoelectron spectroscopy, you will identify the key reaction intermediates of plasma-catalytic reactions on model catalysts. Throughout the project, you will couple new fundamental insights on plasma-surface interactions to changes in reactivity and selectivity of surfaces.

What does ARCNL offer you?

  • Responsibility over a unique tool combining plasma exposure in situ with photoelectron spectroscopy and infrared spectroscopy
  • Access to state-of-the-art sample characterization and preparation tools including ultra-high vacuum equipment for imaging and diffraction, thin-film growth, and cleanroom facilities
  • The opportunity to learn new characterization methods and improve your experimental skills in measurement campaigns designed by you
  • Active collaborations with world-leading experimental and theoretical groups
  • Cooperation with a team of PhD students and a large industrial partner


You need to meet the requirements for a doctors-degree and must have research experience in a non-Dutch academic environment.

You have a PhD in Physics, Physical Chemistry, or Materials Science and experience with infrared reflection absorption spectroscopy for surface-sensitive measurements.
You are independent and have good project management skills.
Good verbal and written communication skills (in English) are required.
A background in surface science, ultra-high vacuum, and photoelectron spectroscopy is considered an advantage for the project.

Work environment

ARCNL performs fundamental research, focusing on the physics and chemistry involved in current and future key technologies in nanolithography, primarily for the semiconductor industry. While the academic setting and research style are geared towards establishing scientific excellence, the topics in ARCNL’s research program are intimately connected with the interests of the industrial partner ASML. The institute is located at Amsterdam Science Park and currently employs about 100 persons of which 65 are ambitious (young) researchers from all over the globe.

Working conditions

The Advanced Research Center for Nanolithography (ARCNL) focuses on the fundamental physics and chemistry involved in current and future key technologies in nanolithography, primarily for the semiconductor industry. ARCNL is a public-private partnership between the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam and the semiconductor equipment manufacturer ASML. ARCNL is located at the Science Park Amsterdam, The Netherlands (see also
The research activities of the Materials and Surface Science for EUV Lithography group aim at the atomic-scale understanding of surface processes in challenging environments, such as plasmas, high light intensities, and high temperatures.

More information?

Dr. Roland Bliem
Head of the Materials and Surface Science for EUV Lithography group
Phone: +31- 20 851 7100


You can respond to this vacancy online via the button below.
Please annex your:
–  Resume;
–  Motivation on why you want to join the group (max. 1 page).
It is important to us to know why you want to join our team. This means that we will only consider your application if it entails your motivation letter.

Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis and as soon as an excellent match is made, the position will be filled.

Online screening may be part of the selection.

Diversity code

ARCNL is highly committed to an inclusive and diverse work environment: we want to develop talent and creativity by bringing together people from different backgrounds and cultures. We recruit and select on the basis of competencies and talents. We strongly encourage anyone with the right qualifications to apply for the vacancy, regardless of age, gender, origin, sexual orientation or physical ability.

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