Single Atom Catalysts for Sustainable Industrial Processes


Process efficiency in the field of energy and biomass conversion is a contemporary and urgent societal issue. Heterogeneous catalysis is a key enabling technology towards this goal. In that context, understanding catalysis at the molecular level for minimizing the use of rare and noble metal will contribute to make processes more environmentally friendly, i.e. by moving from supported nanoparticles to smaller clusters or isolated metal sites. Recently, single atom catalysts, where atomically dispersed metal on oxide supports act as active sites under reaction conditions, are proposed to reach high activity, selectivity and stability for numerous reactions. The enthusiasm for this topic coincides with the advances made in the field of atomic-scale characterization techniques and molecular modeling. However, the synthesis and the characterization of such materials remains a grand challenge. 
This PhD project, at the frontier of molecular and material chemistry, aims at generating isolated metal sites on alumina using the tools of Surface Organometallic Chemistry (SOMC), combining advanced synthetic, spectroscopic and microscopy methods augmented by molecular modeling, and to study their behavior in key catalytic processes for a more sustainable chemical industry.

Keywords: single atom, heterogeneous catalysis, inorganic synthesis, SOMC, characterisation

  • Academic supervisor    Dr C. Chizallet, IFPEN (ORCID 0000-0001-5140-8397)
  • Doctoral School    206 - Ecole doctorale Chimie, Procédé, Environnement, Lyon University, France
  • IFPEN supervisor    Dr A. Cabiac, Catalysis by Metals and Acido-Basic Solids Department, (https:/
  • Collaboration    Prof. C. Copéret – ETH Zürich – (ORCOD 0000-0001-9660-3890)
  • PhD location    IFP Energies nouvelles, Lyon, France ; ETH, Zurich, Swiss  
  • Duration and start date    3 years, starting in Autumn 2022
  • Employer    IFPEN, Lyon, France
  • Academic requirements    University Master degree in Molecular or inorganic chemistry
  • Language requirements    Fluency in English, willingness to learn French
  • Other requirements    Knowledges in physical chemistry, theoretical physics, catalysis would be a plus

For more information or to submit an application, please contact the IFPEN supervisor.

IFPEN supervisor
Dr Amandine CABIAC
Catalyse par les Métaux et les Solides Acido-Basiques
About IFP Energies nouvelles

IFP Energies nouvelles is a French public-sector research, innovation and training center. Its mission is to develop efficient, economical, clean and sustainable technologies in the fields of energy, transport and the environment. For more information, see 
IFPEN offers a stimulating research environment, with access to first in class laboratory infrastructures and computing facilities. IFPEN offers competitive salary and benefits packages. All PhD students have access to dedicated seminars and training sessions.