Transformation and Mobility of Al Nanomaterials in the Environment

March 20, 2017
Job Type: 
PhD Position
Job Institution: 
CEREGE - ICR Aix-en-Provence, France

Description of PhD Thesis Project

Engineered aluminum nanoparticles have become a part of our everyday life. Aluminum (Al) oxides and (oxy)hydroxides are used in a wide range of industrial applications (pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food, water treatment…) either in the form of the particle core or in the form of coating of other nano-sized objects. While a rapid library search reveals that synthesis and reactivity of nano-sized Al species are popular research fields, their environmental fate and/or potentially adverse effects have received only marginal attention. Just like any other chemical, the environmental reactivity, mobility and toxicity of nano-sized Al phases are controlled by their speciation, and especially their surface chemistry. Al is a known toxicant for over a century, but its toxicity is usually attributed to soluble species, and in particular the Al3+ monomer. In the early 1990s, it was demonstrated that a ca. 2 nm Al nanoparticle (i.e. aka Al13) exhibits toxic effects 60 times more severe than Al3+.1 In more recent years, it has been reported than Al oxides and (oxy)hydroxides, which are usually considered as non toxic, have detrimental effects when their size falls within the nano range.2

In a time where regulators must address concerns against nano-enabled products in general, it is important to provide a sound knowledge basis to be used by mechanism-driven predictive tools. In this vast endeavor, the present project aims at determining the mechanisms controlling the fate of Al based nanomaterials after their intended use. In this end-of-life stage, the aim is to characterize the fate of selected Al nano-phases in a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and the downstream natural environment.

Expected Profile of Candidate

The candidate should have a strong background in physical-chemistry and chemistry and 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 in a multi-site, multi-disciplinary team. Basic knowledge in the French language is not required but would be appreciated.

How to Apply

This is a Marie Curie grant (grant agreement No 713750) with specific eligilibity criteria. Please review requirements online.

Application must be submitted by April 10th 2017.

Since the PhD advisors do not have access to the applications before the deadline, please send a copy of your CV and transcripts to: and We will then contact you to schedule a Skype interview

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