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DIFFER (Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research) is one of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) institutes and focuses on a multidisciplinary approach to energy research, combining physics, chemistry, engineering and materials science. The institute is based on two main strands, solar fuels for the conversion and storage of renewable energy and fusion-energy as clean and unlimited source of energy. DIFFER is developing and supporting a national network on fundamental energy research and is closely collaborating with academic institutions, research institutes and industry.

Scientific aim: 

To address climate change and its long-term multidimensional impacts, the Paris Agreement aims to limit global temperature increase. In order to fulfill its commitments to the agreement, a climate accord was signed in the Netherlands setting the goal of 49% reduction in CO2 by 2030. It is widely agreed that HYDROGEN will play a pivotal role in the low-carbon energy transition. Aiming for solutions that can be scaled up apart from efficiency, sustainability should be also concerned. Conventional electrolysis approaches are based either using scarce/expensive materials or are not compatible with an intermittent electricity supply of renewables, such as wind or solar energy. AEM (anion exchange membrane) electrolysers are an emerging solution to these issues since they are based on zero gap design and abundant materials. This PhD position will focus on the development and evaluation of materials for AEM water electrolysis.

Responsibilities and tasks: 

The research tasks are highly interdisciplinary and will perfectly align with emerging research lines and granted projects at DIFFER.

  • Development and evaluation of gas diffusion electrodes in electrochemical half-cells
  • Assembling and characterization of anion exchange membrane electrode assemblies
  • Electrochemical characterization of the membrane electrode assemblies.
  • Physicostructural material characterization (UV-Vis, XRD, XPS, SEM)
  • Gas phase analysis of reaction products (GC, MS, FTIR)
  • Preparation of scientific papers and conference communications.
  • Supervision of bachelor and master students.
  • Contribution to the scientific and collaborative research environment at DIFFER.


We are looking for a qualified and motivated candidate that meets the following requirements:

  • Education as chemist, chemical engineer, materials scientist or similar in BSc and MSc level
  • Practical experience in the areas of polymeric membrane fuel cells or electrolysers, electrocatalysis, electrochemistry in MSc level would be an asset
  • Strong communication skills and attitude to participate successfully in multidisciplinary projects
  • Ability to work well individually and as a team member
  • Good communication skills in English (both written and spoken)

The work will be conducted in the framework of the NWA-ECCM project “SCALE”. In this project, DIFFER, TU.e, FONTYS, ISPT, Syngaschem, VSparticle and VECO precision have combined efforts for the successful implementation of hydrogen production and storage.

Employment conditions: 

Our institute offers a first-class and international research environment with various interdisciplinary but related research topics and projects. When fulfilling a Ph.D. position at DIFFER, you will have an employee status as a junior scientist at NWO. You can participate in all the employee benefits NWO offers. NWO and DIFFER have several regulations that support employees in finding a good work-life balance. Such as conditions for teleworking, partly paid parental leave, the possibility to purchase and sell holiday leave, and a mentoring program. You will get a contract for four years. Your salary will start at 2,441 euro and be up to a maximum of 3,128 euro gross per month. The salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8 percent and an end-of-year bonus of 8.33 percent. A training program is part of the agreement: you and your supervisor will design a plan for the additional education and supervising that you specifically need, for example through several courses offered by NWO. The doctoral degree will be awarded by the Eindhoven University of Technology ( ).

General information on working at NWO can also be found at the NWO website:

Further information: 

The 'NWO job interview code' applies to this position. DIFFER strives to achieve a diverse workforce to develop talent and creativity by bringing together different perspectives. As such we encourage applications from women and minorities. Further information on the vacancy is available through, Dr M. Tsampas, e-mail: and CEPEA website .

Application procedure: 

In case you are interested you can apply by electronically submitting an application letter and a full curriculum vitae to . In the subject of your email please specify the vacancy number (21.014) and use the following format for your application letter and CV:


Closing date: 
Sunday, July 4, 2021
Vacacany number: 
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