Fully funded PhD in role of particle size and mixing state for ice nucleation on mineral dust

Updated: 6 months ago
Job Type: Permanent
Deadline: The position may have been removed or expired!

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

The Atmospheric Physics group at ETH Zurich (IAC-ETH) invites applications for a 3–3.5-year PhD position funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) project “The role of particle size, organic matter, and freezing mode for ice nucleation on mineral and soil dusts”. The project has a total of 3 PhD positions that will closely collaborate.

Project background

Ice-nucleating particles (INPs) represent only a tiny fraction of the atmospheric aerosol, but they are key actors in cloud processes including precipitation formation, as they initiate the ice phase in clouds. Although mineral dusts are probably the most important and best established type of atmospheric INPs, there are still major unknowns that preclude a reliable prediction of ice crystals forming on them. Different factors have been identified that influence their freezing temperatures. Apart from the mineral type, these are particle size, interactions with solutes and water, adsorption of organic molecules, and freezing mode. Yet, some of these factors do not seem to matter in general, but only for some mineral types. Therefore, attempts to generalize them to all types of mineral INPs produce conflicting results.

Our group has longstanding experience in the investigation of atmospheric INPs and a history of developing cloud chambers and cold-stage experiments, among them the microfluidic device MINCZ, the drop freezing assay DRINCZ and the continuous flow diffusion chamber HINC. Moreover, a broad range of analytical techniques for aerosol characterization are available in our group and at ETH Zurich.

Job description
  • Development of an experimental procedure to fractionate mineral dust samples in different size classes.
  • Analysis of the size classes with respect to mineralogical composition (XRD) and surface area (BET).
  • Analysis of the samples with Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) and (Energy Dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) to determine the mixing state of the particles and their morphology.
  • Measurement of the ice nucleation activity with MINCZ and DRINCZ.
  • Correlation of the ice nucleation activity of the different size classes with their mineralogical composition and morphology. Interpretation of the results.

Your profile
  • A MSc (or equivalent) in chemistry, physics, engineering, atmospheric/environmental sciences, or a related field
  • Knowledge of oral and written English is required
  • Knowledge of aerosol measurement techniques and data analysis in Igor, MATLAB, Python or similar software is highly desired.

We are looking for a highly motivated, committed, and creative person.

Your workplace

Your workplace

We offer
  • Training in teaching via a teaching assistantship
  • Support for career development during the later stage of PhD via regular assessments and promotion of networking through conferences and project meetings
  • Support programs e.g. mentoring of bachelor and master students
  • Culturally and gender diverse team at all levels (students and senior staff) with flexible working hours and home office (where possible) to accommodate diverse team needs
  • Excellent funding, infrastructure and working environment with state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and equipment

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Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application which includes:

  • CV
  • Academic transcripts
  • Work certificates (if any)
  • 1-page motivation letter statng research experiences and interests
  • Contact information of at least two referees.

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered. Applications will be reviewed  on a rolling basis until filled (no deadlines). The start of the project is scheduled for September 2023.

For further information on this position contact Dr. Claudia Marcolli, claudia.marcolli@env.ethz.ch , and visit our website .

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

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