PostDoc to work on Electrospinning and Wet Processing of Sustainable Polymers (60 - 100%)

Updated: about 5 hours ago

Materials science and technology are our passion. With our cutting-edge research, Empa's around 1,100 employees make essential contributions to the well-being of society for a future worth living. Empa is a research institution of the ETH Domain.

Our laboratory Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles develops novel smart fibers, textiles and membranes for body monitoring, drug delivery and tissue engineering applications. A special focus is to develop physical and numerical skin/body models for the analysis of the interactions between materials and the human skin to optimize the protection and ergonomics of systems.

Your tasks

In our research group, we strive to transfer technologies like electrospinning and encapsulation from academia to industry. Currently, the potentially biggest driving force of modernization in the consumer industries in response to or anticipation of regulations and customer approval is sustainability. Among other aspects, this involves both the bio-derivation and bio-degradability of materials, as well as the energy consumption of processes. We employ solution-based processes like electrospinning, spraying and microfluidic wet spinning to obtain membranes, fibers and particles for applications including controlled drug delivery, biomimetic barriers, textile functionalization and air filtration.

Project Background

Textile and membrane producers supply crucial filters for application in general HVAC, automotive, medical and chemical industries. Unfortunately, these businesses in particular are directly affected by changes in sustainability-related regulations or impact assessments, and have to reconsider both future processing and used materials in long-term planning efforts. While a range of biopolymers and green solvents have already been reported and broadly implemented in daily life, they often still suffer from poor mechanical or chemical stability, difficult or hazardous processing, and a general lack of customizability in function and degradability. As a research institution in close contact with industry, we optimize and demonstrate academic strategies on lab- and pilot-scale equipment for direct scale-up and implementation by our partners. Our group has a long-standing track-record in various solution-based (wet) processing technologies, including spraying, coating, microfluidic fiber production and electrospinning. Nonwovens produced by electrospinning and combined with fibers and other sustainable substrates into stable composites have been proven to be excellent customizable filter materials, if manufactured under the right conditions. Recently, we have identified unconventional green solvents able to dissolve high-performance polymer materials for more sophisticated filter materials made by a less energy-demanding process, as well as additives to tailor thermo-mechanical and functional properties.

Project description

Novel versatile bio-based polymeric materials with enhanced solubility are developed and processed into various filter prototypes. The aim is to reduce and replace currently employed fossil-based polymers, as well as environmentally/health hazardous solvents in wet processing, with sustainable alternatives. A comprehensive thermo-mechanical and physico-chemical analysis will be conducted to understand the intrinsic properties of the filter composite and ensure detailed specifications for their application. Finally, filtration efficiency, surface properties and degradation behavior will determine the possible target industries.

Your profile

The candidate should have a strong background in Materials or Polymers Science, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering or similar. We are looking for a highly motivated and independent person capable of working in a multidisciplinary environment, who is driven by scientific curiosity, interested in the upscaling of technology, and open to learning new topics. The PostDoc candidate needs to be proficient in spoken and written English; German language proficiency is a plus. She/he should be confident in preparing project reports and presentations, organizing meetings with industrial partners and collaborators, as well as writing drafts for patent applications or scientific publications.

Previous experience in one or more of the following topics is required: Sustainable Polymers and Solvents, Electrospinning, Wet/Solution Processing, Polymer Science and Technology, Chemical Post-Functionalization, Lamination/Composite Manufacturing, Filtering Membranes.

Our offer

You can expect a vibrant international atmosphere in a leading research facility equipped with superior infrastructure and surrounded by interdisciplinary excellence. The position shall be filled as soon as possible and is initially limited to 2 years.

We live a culture of inclusion and respect. We welcome all people who are interested in innovative, sustainable and meaningful activities - that's what counts.

SarahStüdli, Bereichspersonalleiterin / HR Partner

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