Postdoctoral Research Associate - Thermal Degradation

Date: Nov 16, 2023

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 11882 


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 Surface Science and Engineering Postdoctoral Research Associate who will focus on thermal degradation for energy conversion and storage. This position resides in the Surface Engineering and Tribology Group in the Materials Structure and Processing Section, Materials Science and Technology Division (MSTD), Physical Science Directorate (PSD) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). As part of our team, you will work with ORNL’s world-class experts and have access to the state-of-the-art facilities to learn, grow, and make major contributions to the exciting research activities here. You will be primarily involved in two projects: one developing a unique thermal-sensitive coating for alarming thermal runaway of energy storage systems including electric vehicle batteries and the other investigating and mitigating biomass fouling under combined thermal and mechanical stresses in biofuel preconversion. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the research, we’re looking for someone that will be open-minded in applying combined materials, thermal physical, chemical and mechanical technologies in collaborations with researchers from other groups, divisions, and outside partners. In addition to meeting project milestones and producing high impact publications, involvement in professional societies and contributions to local communities are also highly encouraged.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Synthesize organic, organometallic, and/or polymeric compounds as a temperature or thermal sensitive coatings
  • Evaluate the thermal-sensitive coatings using simulative battery thermal runaway experiments and gain mechanistic understanding of coating optimization for target temperatures.
  • Conduct thermodynamic calculations
  • Establish a simulative biomass fouling test protocol
  • Evaluate the fouling intendency of various types of biomass, gain fundamental understanding of their fouling mechanisms, and propose and validate mitigation strategies
  • Characterize the fresh and tested materials in terms of composition, morphology, microstructure, thermophysical, and mechanical properties
  • Present, report, and publish research results in a timely manner
  • Ensure compliance with environment, safety, health, and quality program requirements
  • Maintain strong dedication to the implementation and perpetuation of values and ethics
  • 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 Materials Science, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or a related field completed within the last 5 years


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience in materials thermal degradation
  • Experience in thermodynamics
  • Experience in materials characterization
  • Experience in organic and inorganic synthesis is a plus
  • Strong interest and aptitude for experimental, hands-on laboratory work
  • Excellent record of productive and creative research as demonstrated by publications in peer-reviewed journals
  • 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:

  • Login to your account via
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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:



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