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PhD student position in the field of heterogeneously catalyzed C-H activation for organic synthesis. Leuven Belgium,  

KU Leuven (company)

Posted on : 15 April 2017

Project Description

  • The main goal of this doctorate is the design, and characterization of hybrid single-atom Pd(II) catalysts for the oxidation alkenylation of arenes and theoxidative C-H/C-H coupling of arenes.
  •  In case of success, this constitutes to a significant step toward the more sustainable production of fine chemicals. 
  • The PhD thesis will be performed as a part of a large European Horizon 2020 project, in which world leading groups and companies for C-H activation, heterogeneous catalysis and scale-up are participating. Frequent project meetings as well as academic exchange and intense collaboration are beneficial for the successful candidate.
  • In the beginning of the PhD thesis, an initial screening of homogeneous catalysts to identify lead structures for heterogeneous catalyst development will be performed. 
  • The corresponding redox-active metal-organic framework (MOF) materials will be synthesized which contain structures in close relation to those of the best homogeneous ones.

More specifically, the following objectives should be reached:
  • Synthesis of a highly active, stable catalyst (TON>1000) with minimal noble metal leaching
  • Regioselective activation of C-H moieties with or without a directing group
  • Elucidation of structure-activity relationships and detailed understanding of each step of the catalytic cycle
  • To reach these objectives, the successful candidate will have all possible support by the group leader, post-docs and fellow PhD students. 
  • The strong expertise in MOF synthesis in the group will allow for facile synthesis of the desired MOF catalysts. 
  • Standard characterization techniques (XRD, N2-physisorption,SEM, FTIR, &) are available within the group for fast progress of the project. 
  • For more advanced techniques, such as XPS or TEM, a strong network is available that allows for facile access to these techniques. 
  • Reactions can be performed in small reactors that allow for performing several reactions simultaneously.
  • All techniques and knowledge for evaluation of the results is available within the group. Completing a PhD thesis takes 4 years, which sets the time frame of this project.

  • We are looking for a person with a Master s degree in Chemistry, (bio)chemical engineering or related disciplines with excellent study results and a strong background in catalysis.
  •  A strong academic record, such as having prior research stays abroad or other research experiences, is a plus. 
  • It is also of great interest, if the candidate has further, complimentary skills, such as in advanced characterization techniques or classic organic synthesis.


3000 Leuven Belgium

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