Two PhD positions within the INPhINIT Programme (La Caixa) at the ICMAB

Our group offers two PhD projects within the INPhINIT, ”la Caixa” Doctoral Fellowship Programme devoted to attracting international Early-Stage Researchers to the top Spanish research centres in the areas of Bio and Health Sciences, Physics, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. ICMAB-CSIC is one of the “Severo Ochoa” centers selected and has published PhD positions in this year’s call under this programme to perform challenging and stimulating PhD projects.  

  • A molecular-scale investigation of organic hybrid structures for artificial photosynthesis

The emergence of nanomaterials as new building blocks to construct light energy harvesting assemblies has opened up new ways to utilize renewable energy sources. For instance, by mimicking photosynthesis with donor-acceptor molecular assemblies to produce fuels and water-splitting. Over the past decade, fundamental progress has been made in developing novel material structures for water-splitting reactions. However many challenges persist in achieving the desired goal of cheap and efficient conversion of solar energy into chemical energy. Still very little detailed mechanistic information is availabe at atomic-scale of the specific interactions and processes occurring at the surface of the nanostructures. 

To meet these defies, we propose an innovative and novel concept based on the experimental design of a bifunctional visible light photocatalyisis (for oxidation and reduction of water) based on organic/graphene/metal heterostructures. This project focuses on the exploration of novel two-dimensional heterostructures based on organic assemblies and graphene with potential application in photocatalysis and artificial photosynthesis. By using advanced techniques of surface science,  this project aims at elucidating fundamental processes of relevance in photocatalyisis and artificial photosysntesis. The project adresses the electronic and structural properties, chemical selectivity and confinament effects at interfaces.

The student will benefit from the expertise and friendly enviroment of the Group of Physical Chemistry of Surfaces and Interfaces at the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC).

Contact: Esther Barrena (, Carmen Ocal (


  • Novel organic semiconductors active layers obtained by micro-droplet injection

The project aims the nanoscale investigation of novel organic semiconductors based on curcuminoids (CCMoids), molecules and/or polymers, susceptible of being used as active layers in optoelectronic devices, as electrode interlayers or as responsive layers with photo- or electro-chemical response. Having relevant electronic properties for applications in different fields (spintronic, electronics, energy…) and, particularly, in organic field effect transistors (OFETs), the final goal is to achieve these materials in the form of organized layers on surfaces. Their synthetic versatility and intrinsic electronic properties give CCMoids great advantages (coordination to metal/metalloids, immobilization on functionalized surfaces, solubility improvement, low cost and bio-inspired systems…) as active layers on surfaces/electrodes.

The relevance that crystalline order of the organic layers confers to their electrical characteristics as well as the need of ultrathin films integration into real applications make crucial establishing the correlation between their structural details and nanoscale properties. An innovative method consisting of a novel atomic layer injection system will be used for depositing non-volatile CCMoids in vacuum. This method uses a pulsed valve to inject small amounts of the solution containing the molecules onto suitable substrates in ultra clean conditions. One of the major challenges consists in the selection of the appropriate solvent which permits the production of micro-drops of the molecular solution and is evaporated during the travel through vacuum to the surface so that a pure molecular layer can be formed. Connection of the deposition equipment and an Ultra High Vacuum (UHV) chamber equipped with Scanning Tunneling and Atomic Force Microscope will permit investigating absolutely new ultrathin molecular layers made out of these novel molecules by correlating the 2D-order of the molecular assemblies with their properties.

Contact: Carmen Ocal (, Nuria Aliaga (

Important dates: 

1 February 2018. End of the call for applications.
15 February 2018. Deadline for presenting the language certificate.
18 April 2018. Notification of the shortlist results.
16 and 17 May 2018. Face-to-face interviews in Barcelona.
29 May 2018. Publication of the results.
From 29 May 2018 to 22 June 2018. Matching of research centre and fellows.
Between September and October. Start of the fellowship.

Once you have chosen the project, and are sure to fulfill all the eligibility criteriaclick here to create your personal account and fill in the on-line “la Caixa” application form to apply for the fellowship.


INPhINIT relies on the European Commission’s support through the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions – COFUND programme to recruit a larger number of researchers and achieve a broader impact, as well as to further pursue the highest standards for research training.

PhD position at the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB)

Two-dimensional organic hybrid structures for artificial photosynthesis

The conversion of solar energy to chemical energy represents one of the most attractive prospects to solve the global energy and environmental challenges exisiting nowadays. Artificial photosynthesis aims to mimic the natural model, which, in essence, uses molecular systems to harvest sunlight, to oxidize water and to drive a cascade of electron and energy transfer reactions. The basic principles involve the capture of solar energy, the transfer of the excitation energy to special locations- the reaction centers- and the charge separation for the subsequent electron-transfer processes. Many challenges persist in achieving the desired goal of cheap and efficient conversion of solar energy into chemical energy and, still very little information is available at atomic-scale about the behaviour of water at interfaces of different nature and about the specific interactions involved.

This project focuses on the exploration of novel two-dimensional heterostructures based on organic assemblies and graphene with potential application in photocatalysis and artificial photosynthesis. The study aims at understanding fundamental interface phenomena related with the structure and the photochemistry of these 2D systems, at atomic-scale level. The experimental methods to use are Scanning Tunneling Microscopy and Frequency Modulation Atomic Force Microscopy (STM/FM-AFM) in Ultra-High Vacuum (UHV) complemented by near-ambient pressure X-ray techniques (XPS/NEXAFS) performed at the ALBA Synchrotron Light Source.

We are searching well-qualified and highly motivated PhD candidates who wishes to work in a stimulating environment as well as to obtain a doctoral degree in physics or materials science. Eligibility requires an internationally-recognized Master-equivalent degree, an excellent academic record and good knowledge of English. 



DOC-FAM doctoral programme promotes adequate work and employment conditions for the recruited researchers, fulfilling the principles set in the Charter & Code. Selected fellows will receive a generous salary including living and mobility allowances. In addition, DOC-FAM will cover tuition fees for PhD studies during the 3 years of the contract. Fellows will also enjoy research, training & networking costsrelated to their participation in the different activities throughout the programme.

Living allowance: 28,800€/year

Mobility allowance: 4,800€/year

TOTAL gross salary*: 33,600€/year

*Net salary results from deducting all compulsory social security contributions as well as direct taxes from the gross amounts. Social security coverage for the contracted fellows in Spain include benefits for health care, occupational accident, unemployment and disablement benefits, parental and sick leave.


Applications here