PhD position in Transport Modeling in Porous Media linked to Corrosion Science

100%, Zurich, temporary

The research group “Durability of Engineering Materials” at the Institute for Building Materials (Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering) at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, performs research at the interface of corrosion science and engineering. Our mission is to deliver the scientific basis for the development of innovative technologies to mitigate corrosion.

We invite applications for a PhD position. The student will work under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Ueli Angst and Dr. Zhidong Zhang. Likely starting date: January 2020.

Project background

Corrosion of infrastructures, such as bridges and pipelines, causes high costs to society and impairs the safety and the quality of life. This project forms part of a larger research framework, aiming at innovative corrosion mitigation strategies, based on electrochemical methods. We combine methods from corrosion science, environmental sciences, and reactive transport modeling. In particular, we seek to address the challenge of corrosion of steel-based infrastructures surrounded by porous media, such as reinforcing steel in concrete and steel in soil.

Job description

The aim of this PhD project is to develop a comprehensive numerical model framework that takes into account all relevant processes occurring at the steel surface and in the porous medium when a metal is subjected to electrochemical polarization. The main novelty lies in developing the scientific theory to consider the electrochemical reaction kinetics at the protected metal as a function of the electrolyte chemistry, and to couple this with state-of-the-art reactive multi-species transport modeling in porous media. We will focus on steel corrosion in (sandy) soils and in cementitious materials (mortar, concrete). To obtain the needed input data and to validate the model, this project will be closely linked to an on-going experimental PhD study in the research group, which takes advantage of latest developments in in-situ sensing techniques (pH, O2, Cl–) and microstructural characterization.

The conditions of employment are based on the Swiss Federal Personnel Act and the ETH Personnel Ordinance. The salary rates of PhD students are in agreement with the employment conditions of ETH (covering living expenses).

Your profile

Successful applicants should hold a MSc degree preferably in engineering, physics, mathematics, geophysics or related areas with a strong background in numerical modeling. Ideally, the candidate is already experienced with reactive transport modeling in porous media. Knowledge in corrosion is not required, but the candidate is expected to show a strong interest in this field and to study the theory. Proficiency in written and oral English as well as maturity and self-motivation are necessary. Above all, candidates should be enthusiastic and creative in what they do.

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.
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We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents: CV, motivation letter, degree certificates, and names and contact information of two references. Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

For further information please contact Prof. Dr. Ueli Angst ( or Dr. Zhidong Zhang, ( or visit our website at

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