Open PhD project: Investigation of nitrogen fixation by means of Raman gas spectroscopy
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena
The Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry is dedicated to the study of global cycles of essential elements on Earth, their interactions among the biosphere, atmosphere, geosphere and the oceans, and their interrelation with the physical climate system.
The institute was founded in 1997 by the Max Planck Society as the third Max Planck Institute in Jena. In 2003, the institute moved into its new building on the Beutenberg Campus. The Science Campus is home to several academic and for-profit research institutions and offers together with the Friedrich-Schiller University Jena excellent potential for local scientific collaborations.
Biogeochemical research is highly interdisciplinary and international. Scientists from all over the world are attracted to our institute and our research is often conducted in remote and exotic locations worldwide.
Geosciences Instrumentation and Data Systems (GI)
In cooperation with the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry houses a unique and flexible research program that grants German and foreign students a broad selection of learning opportunities while still maintaining a research focus.
The IMPRS-gBGC offers a PhD program specializing in global biogeochemistry and related Earth system sciences. The overall research and teaching focuses on:
- Improved understanding of biogeochemical processes with an emphasis on terrestrial ecosystems
- Development of observational techniques to monitor and assess biogeochemical feedbacks in the Earth system
- Theory and model development for improving the representation of biogeochemical processes in comprehensive Earth system models
Biological N 2 fixation is a major input of bioavailable nitrogen, which represents the most frequent factor limiting the agricultural production throughout the world. Especially the symbiotic association between legumes and Rhizobium bacteria can provide substantial amounts of nitrogen (N) and reduce the need for industrial fertilizers. Despite its importance in the global N cycle, rates of biological nitrogen fixation have proven difficult to quantify. Currently there is a lack of miniaturized, field-portable, and robust sensors capable for simultaneous quantification of multiple components in complex biogenic gas mixtures. An innovative approach is Raman gas spectroscopy, a technique that is based on molecular vibrations and capable for the quantification of a whole variety of biogenic gases simultaneously in a broad concentration range (from ppm to pure compounds). Raman spectroscopy is a non-consumptive technique that can be applied for rapid online monitoring of gases.
In this project a new setup for Raman spectroscopic nitrogen gas sensing will be developed and applied for studying biological nitrogen fixation. The new device should potentially allow online monitoring of reactive gases rapidly, sensitively and with high spectral resolution. A novel optical cavity setup be developed and exploited for efficient light-analyte-interactions in order to achieve an improved analytical sensitivity. Several interdisciplinary gas sensing experiments will be performed together with our collaboration partners.
Working group & planned collaborations
The work in the spectroscopic sensing group at the Institute of Physical Chemistry and the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology is focused on the development and application of enhanced Raman spectroscopic gas sensing techniques that enable new insights into complex biogeochemical processes.
The interdisciplinary project is strongly connected to the collaborative research centre AquaDiva and includes several collaborations to groups at Max Planck and the Friedrich Schiller University.
Online applications for the program are open to well-motivated and highly-qualified candidates from all countries. A prerequisite is a diploma or master of science degree in geophysical sciences, environmental sciences, biological sciences, physics, chemistry, computer sciences or related fields, including a corresponding thesis. Proficiency in English is required since English is the official language of the program.
Applications to the IMPRS-gBGC are open to well-motivated and highly-qualified students from all countries. Prerequisites for this PhD project are:
- a Master’s degree in physics, engineering, analytical or physical chemistry or related disciplines
- experimental and technical skills
- interest in the development and application of new instruments and setups
- interest in Raman Spectroscopy, optics, and gas sensing
- interest in environmental and biogeochemical sciences
- very good communication skills in English (both spoken and written)
The Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply. The Max Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals.