Postdoctoral Research Associate - Graphite-molten Salt

Date: Sep 16, 2023

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 11439 


As a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science national laboratory, ORNL has an extraordinary 80-year history of solving the nation’s biggest problems. We have a dedicated and creative staff of over 6,000 people! Our vision for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) is to cultivate an environment and practices that foster diversity in ideas and in the people across the organization, as well as to ensure ORNL is recognized as a workplace of choice. These elements are critical for enabling the execution of ORNL’s broader mission to accelerate scientific discoveries and their translation into energy, environment, and security solutions for the nation.


We are seeking a Postdoctoral Research Associate who will focus on the characterization of the physical and chemical interactions between carbon materials (graphite and porous carbon, carbon composites, carbon fibers, etc.) and molten salt systems. This position resides in the Nanomaterials Chemistry group in the Separations and Polymer Chemistry Section, Chemical Science Division (CSD), Physical Science Directorate (PSD) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).  


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Work with a diverse team of engineers and scientists seeking to advance scientific understanding of the effect of molten salt exposure in the structure and properties of manufacture graphite, and participate in project planning, execution, and reporting.
  • Perform fundamental and applied research into the structural characterization of various grades of graphite exposed to molten salts at various conditions of temperature and pressure.
  • Characterize graphite samples and salt-exposed graphite samples by a variety of methods including optical microscopy, XRD, SEM, LIBS, RAMAN, neutron imaging and other techniques as applicable.
  • Present and report research results and publish scientific results in peer-reviewed journals in a timely manner.
  • Deliver ORNL’s mission by aligning behaviors, priorities, and interactions with our core values of Impact, Integrity, Teamwork, Safety, and Service. Promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility by fostering a respectful workplace – in how we treat one another, work together, and measure success.


Basic Qualifications:

  • A PhD in Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Materials Science, or a related field completed within the last 5 years


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Proficiency on physical chemistry and chemical reactivity of carbon materials surfaces in gases, electrolytes, and molten salts.
  • General knowledge of surface chemistry and reactivity of solid-state materials (ceramics, graphite, carbon fibers) including, but not limited to, adsorption, corrosion, oxidation, phase changes, coatings, etc.
  • Experience with several of the techniques for materials characterization, including gas adsorption (BET), spectroscopy (Raman, XPS, LIBS, FTIR), structural characterization (XRD, SEM, optical microscopy), thermal analysis (TGA, DCS, TPD-MS)
  • Familiar with general practices in chemical laboratory, including chemical safety and hands-on experience with common analytical methods.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Motivated self-starter with the ability to work independently and to participate creatively in collaborative teams across the laboratory. 
  • Ability to function well in a fast-paced research environment, set priorities to accomplish multiple tasks within deadlines, and adapt to ever changing needs.


Applicants cannot have received their Ph.D. more than five years prior to the date of application and must complete all degree requirements before starting their appointment. The appointment length will be for up to 24 months with the potential for extension. Initial appointments and extensions are subject to performance and the availability of funding.


Please submit three letters of reference when applying to this position. You can upload these directly to your application or have them sent to with the position title and number referenced in the subject line.


Instructions to upload documents to your candidate profile:

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  • Under the My Documents section, select Add a Document


Benefits at ORNL:  

ORNL offers competitive pay and benefits programs to attract and retain talented people. The laboratory offers many employee benefits, including medical and retirement plans and flexible work hours, to help you and your family live happy and healthy. Employee amenities such as on-site fitness, banking, and cafeteria facilities are also provided for convenience.

Other benefits include: Prescription Drug Plan, Dental Plan, Vision Plan, 401(k) Retirement Plan, Life Insurance, Pet Insurance, Generous Vacation and Holidays, Parental Leave, Legal Insurance with Identity Theft Protection, Employee Assistance Plan, Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts, Wellness Programs, Educational Assistance, Relocation Assistance, and Employee Discounts.

If you have difficulty using the online application system or need an accommodation to apply due to a disability, please email: or call 1.866.963.9545.




This position will remain open for a minimum of 5 days after which it will close when a qualified candidate is identified and/or hired.

We accept Word (.doc, .docx), Adobe (unsecured .pdf), Rich Text Format (.rtf), and HTML (.htm, .html) up to 5MB in size. Resumes from third party vendors will not be accepted; these resumes will be deleted and the candidates submitted will not be considered for employment.

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ORNL is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants, including individuals with disabilities and protected veterans, are encouraged to apply.  UT-Battelle is an E-Verify employer.

Nearest Major Market: Knoxville