PhD position, Marseille (France)

A PhD studentship supported by the Marie Curie Actions-COFUND is available under the joint supervision of Dr. Armand MASION (CEREGE Laboratory and Prof. Stéphane VIEL (Radical Chemistry Institute at Aix-Marseille University (located in the southern-east part of France).


The aim of this project is to develop dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) NMR and MRI methodologies to study the speciation and mapping of Al-nanomaterials in an environmentally significant context. The environmental fate and potentially adverse effects of engineered aluminum nanoparticles, which are used in a wide range of industrial applications (e.g. pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food, water treatment…), have received only marginal attention so far. The environmental reactivity, mobility and toxicity of nano-sized Al phases are controlled by their speciation, and especially their surface chemistry. The present project aims at determining the mechanisms controlling the fate of selected Al based nanomaterials in a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and the downstream natural environment. Given the affinity between Al and organics, the required analytical tools need to be able to determine the Al and C speciation with the least amount of sample preparation. Solid-state NMR is an element-specific probe that is extremely valuable to provide a detailed speciation for both Al and C nuclei, and is perfectly suited to analyze nanoparticles and their coatings. However, because it is conceptually necessary to monitor the Al nanophase in realistic environments (hence, at low concentrations), the so-called dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) technique will have to be used to enhance the intrinsically low sensitivity of NMR. In addition, characterizing the fate and mobility of Al-nanomaterials also requires mapping their distribution within the different compartments of the system, including living organisms. In this context, magnetic resonance imaging (27Al MRI) could prove relevant because it is an element specific technique with a resolution in the µm3 range that makes it ideal for investigating the aggregation state of Al nanomaterials.


The successful candidate should have a strong background in physical-chemistry and chemistry with (possibly) a working knowledge in environmental science and/or geosciences. Experience in NMR spectroscopy is strongly desired. He/she needs to have excellent English communication skills (oral and written) and the ability to work as an active member of a multi-site, multi-disciplinary team. Basic knowledge in French is not required.


Important: for eligibility and all relavant necessary  information, please check: 

Contact: Armand MASION ( or Stéphane VIEL (

Deadline for application: April 10th 2017, midnight (French Time)