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PhD Researcher: Separation of rare-earth ions in strong magnetic fields

Workscope: Research Associate

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Within the Faculty of Engineering Science, the Department of Materials Engineering is responsible for education, research and services in the field of materials. The research activities are related to the development of new and improved materials systems, coatings and thin films, and advanced production methods, as well as to the interaction of those materials with their environment. The starting point is physical material science (crystallographic structures, micro-structural features, phase transformations,...) and its relation to material synthesis, forming properties, functionalities and performance, with a focus on the interface between the material and its specific environment to ensure functionality. The research relies on extensive experimental equipment, modelling specialists and interdisciplinary collaboration within the university as well as with outside partners.

Project
The rare earths (REEs) are a group of 17 elements in the periodic system, including neodymium (Nd), europium (Eu), terbium (Tb), dysprosium (Dy) and yttrium (Y). These elements have become critical elements (as witnessed by the recent commotion around the Chinese restriction of the export of REEs), because of their essential role inpermanent magnets, lamp phosphors, catalysts and rechargeable batteries. The rare earths occur in nature as mixtures and these mixtures are difficult to separate into the individual elements due to the almost identical chemical properties of the rare earths. For many industrial applications, very pure rare earths are required. This project aims to develop a novel separation method, not based on differences in chemical properties, but rather on differences in magnetic properties. Rare-earth ions in solution will follow different flow paths in a microfluidic device placed in a strong magnetic field, depending on the magnetic character of the ions (diamagnetic, weakly paramagnetic or strongly paramagnetic). Another approach is to use magneto-chromatography for separation of rare earths. In an HPLC setup with a ferromagnetic stationary phase, different rare-earth ions will show different retention times in the column as a function of their magnetic properties.

Profile
Master degree with distinction in one of the following fields (or similar): Composites materials, Materials Science, Materials Engineering, Mechanical engineering, Chemical Engineering, etc.
A strong motivation for scientific research is a must.
Candidates having publications and/or conference papers will have an advantage.
A strong interest for multidisciplinary research is required.
Communication skills: ability to work both independently and in a team.
English language proficiency.

Offer
The project offers funding for a 4-year program towards a PhD at the KU Leuven within the Department of Materials Engineering, subject to meeting the requirements and deadlines set out by the supervisors and the Arenberg Doctoral School.
KU Leuven offers an exciting multi-disciplinary research environment, a broad gamut of training courses for Ph.D. students, competitive salaries or scholarships and full social and medical insurance.

Contact detail


How to apply:
You can apply for this job no later than November 13, 2016 via the online application tool.
Send application to
For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Jan Fransaer, tel.: +32 16 32 12 39 , mail: jan.fransaer@kuleuven.be.

Job profile


Working hours
Full-Time
Contract duration
Temporary
Type of job
PhD Project
Work experience
job experience is not required
Region
Belgium
Working place
3000 Leuven
Area of expertise
Material Science & Engineering