PhD project: Sunlight-fueled reduction of CO2 to CO/CH4 using plasmon catalysis

To facilitate the transition towards a climate neutral chemical industry, the direct use of sunlight as energy source to facilitate reduction of CO2 to valuable C1-chemicals and fuels is now a key research area of TNO.



Education type

university (wo)



Hours a week

Fulltime – 40


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What will you be doing?

You will participate in the Interreg Vlaanderen-Nederland project LUMEN, which focuses on establishing a lab scale ‘mini-factory’ for the production of CO and CH4 from CO2, using sunlight as energy source. As PhD student, you will be employed by Hasselt University and work in the Inorganic and Physical Chemistry group with in-depth experience in the design and synthesis of inorganic (catalyst) materials. Prof. dr. Marlies van Bael (Hasselt University and IMEC) and prof. dr. Pascal Buskens (Hasselt University and TNO) will be your PhD supervisors. Your tasks will involve the preparation of plasmon catalysts with tailored optical and catalytic properties for use in sunlight-fueled reduction of CO2 to CO/CH4. Furthermore, you will be involved in characterizing the structure and composition of the prepared materials, their optical properties, and their performance in catalysis. Your working place will be Hasselt University (Diepenbeek, Belgium). You will be working closely together with the plasmon catalysis team at TNO in Eindhoven (NL) and Sittard-Geleen (Brightlands Chemelot Campus, NL), and the Optics research group at TNO. Furthermore, you will interact on a regular base with the companies participating in LUMEN.

What do we require of you?

We are looking for candidates with an MSc degree in chemistry, chemical engineering, physics or material science. Affinity with chemical synthesis is required. Good communication skills in written and spoken English are expected. The position is to be filled at the earliest possible date. You will be employed for two years. After positive evaluation, an extension of two years is foreseen.

What can you expect of your work situation?

You will be working on a very challenging topic of high scientific, commercial and societal relevance, in an interdisciplinary research consortium consisting of universities, research and technology organizations and companies located in the regions Flanders and South Netherlands. You will be working in an excellent research environment at Hasselt University, with the opportunity to perform parts of your research at TNO and other LUMEN project partners when relevant.

You and your knowledge are essential to our science and innovation. That’s why we attach a great deal of value to your personal and professional development, both at Hasselt University and TNO. A team of experts will support you in your work and personal development. You will be employed by Hasselt University, and be appointed and get paid as ‘doctoraatsbursaal’.

Application process

Please note that you can't apply via the website of TNO. Send your cv and motivation letter to

Has this vacancy sparked your interest?

Then please feel free to apply on this vacancy! For further questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

Recruiter: Pascal Buskens

Hiring manager: Pascal Buskens
Phone number: +31 (0)6-317 92891

Note that applications via email and third party applications are not taken into consideration.


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