Postdoctoral Researcher in textile photonics for solar energy

Aalto University is a community of bold thinkers where science and art meet technology and business. We are committed to identifying and solving grand societal challenges and building an innovative future. Aalto University has six schools with nearly 11 000 students and nearly 400 professors. Our campuses are located in Espoo, Helsinki, and Mikkeli, Finland.

Aalto’s activities are guided by integrity – honesty, equality, impartiality, and respect for others. As such, it is everyone’s responsibility in the university community to promote equality. We are dedicated to attracting the best applicants to join us in building a department that reflects the future of the discipline; in particular, we aim to increase the number of women and other underrepresented groups in our studies programmes and in leadership positions with established tracks to tenure.

The Department of Applied Physics (http://physics.aalto.fi) at the School of Science is seeking a

Postdoctoral Researcher in textile photonics for solar energy

Combining expertise in photovoltaics and textile design, an interdisciplinary research team at Aalto University has developed an efficient, durable, and aesthetic concept for integrating solar cells with textiles to provide energy autonomous operation for wearable electronics and smart textile applications. We now seek a postdoc researcher to join the team to carry out challenging applied textile photonics research aimed at developing a revolutionary, commercially feasible, solar cell textile technology. The research carried out in a two-year Co-Innovation project funded by Business Finland (Sun-Powered Textiles, 2019 - 2021) involves close interdisciplinary collaboration with textile design researchers and the Finish textile and electronics industry.

Motivation

Batteries currently used as power source in textile electronics limit the scope of smart textile applications due to issues with cost, reliability, usability, and environmental sustainability. Harvesting energy from sunlight solar cells could provide smart textiles with energy autonomous operation, but their integration with textiles requires that both the energetic and aesthetic performance, in addition to other technical properties, match the end-use needs. The Sun-Powered Textiles project addresses this challenge by combining solar cell and textile photonics research with textile design and engineering, textile manufacturing, prototyping, testing, and market research.

Your role and goals

As our newest team member, you will work together with physicists and textile design researchers from Aalto University and with textile and electrical engineers from the partner companies to develop novel textile materials and structures for integrating solar cells with textiles. The challenge is to efficiently couple incoming sunlight to the photovoltaic elements while preserving good visual aesthetics of the overall design. You will perform pioneering, application-oriented, scientific research on solar cell textile photonics, including:

-        Optical characterization of textile materials with spectroscopic, colorimetric and imaging techniques.

-        Optical and photovoltaic design and performance analysis of textile solar cells prototypes.

-        Optical modelling for explaining how textile material properties and design parameters affect the photovoltaic and aesthetic performance, and translating it to practical figures-of-merit for textile testing.

-        Development of innovative solutions for textile solar cell by merging physics and design insights.

-        Guiding of a master’s thesis project on the estimation of the energy generation potential of textile solar cells at different end-use conditions for energy autonomous textile electronics.

Your results will direct the development of textile solar cell prototypes fabricated in the project and provide scientific background for establishing design guidelines for textile engineers and designers. In this role, you will actively interact with and provide input to other project researchers working on solar textile design, testing and prototyping. You will also organize the work of the project consortium partners related to the above-listed topics using university resources and administrative support. As a senior team member, we expect you to leverage the project to develop new research ideas and questions and have the freedom to explore them.

Working group

The position is situated in the New Energy Technologies group in the Department of Applied Physics (School of Science) and involves close collaboration between the Fashion/Textiles Futures research group of the Department of Design (School of Arts and Design). The interdisciplinary research team dedicated to this project includes a postdoctoral researcher (this position), a master’s thesis worker, and a research assistant in the Department of Applied Physics; and a postdoctoral researcher, a designer in residence, and two master thesis workers in the Department of Design. The team aims for high-quality scientific publications and commercialization of the research results. We have service members in both Schools who will work with you to support publications and commercialization success.

The physics team lead Dr. Janne Halme has expertise in solar cell device physics, printed solar cells, optical modelling and characterization, and solar cell durability studies. His team’s current focus is on new photonic approaches for efficient, coloured photovoltaics for building- and product-integration. The New Energy Technologies group has fully equipped solar cell characterization and accelerated aging labs, and access to high-quality spectroscopy and microscopy facilities in the Department of Applied Physics and through the OtaNano research infrastructure.

The textile team lead Dr. Elina Ilén is D.Sc. (Tech) in fibre materials, and has long experience and deep interests to R&D of wearable textile electronics and functional clothing innovations. The Fashion/Textile Futures group explores new perspectives on human-centred design research with focus on sustainable fashion and textiles. The group members’ research activities include material-based research, aesthetics and creativity studies, practice-based research, and strategic fashion and textile management.

The Sun-Powered Textiles consortium also includes three companies with parallel R&D projects: Foxa (high-performance textiles for clothing industry), Lindström (professional clothing and textile services) and Haltian (electronics solutions for wearables and Internet-of-Things).

Requirements

  • Doctoral degree in physics, electrical engineering, or equivalent on a topic of relevance. (Alternatively, proof that the applicant will have their doctoral thesis submitted before the start of the contract).
  • Capacity to ideate, plan and perform high-quality scientific research, demonstrated with publications.
  • Experience in optical design, modelling and/or experimental characterization of fibre-based materials and structures, or other photonics materials and devices relevant for the research topic.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills for effective organization of interdisciplinary teamwork.
  • Ability to communicate scientific research to non-expert audiences and collaborators (science outreach).
  • Interests in active research collaboration with industry partners.
  • Very good command of English language, both spoken and written.
  • Strong drive towards excellence in science and technology at the highest international level.

We appreciate experience in textile optics and photonics and genuine interest in application-driven scientific research and commercialization of research results. We appreciate also experience from project management work and good command of Finnish language. The selection is based on the candidate’s suitability in and the benefit for the project team, meaning that in addition to academic performance, we want to find a person whose interests and personality is good fit for the team.

We offer

  • High-end laboratory facilities and friendly colleagues.
  • A research community that values bold, innovative research.
  • Opportunities to learn and hone interdisciplinary and industrial collaboration skills.
  • Opportunities for leadership, pedagogical, and self-development training organized by Aalto.
  • Possibility and funding for attending scientific conferences and meetings.
  • Possibility for guiding master or bachelor thesis students.
  • Support for developing your own ideas to competitive grant proposals according to your career goals.

Salary and duration

The contract will be for 17 months. We seek to fill this position as soon as possible but later starting dates are possible. The standard monthly salary level of postdoctoral researchers starts at EUR 3500. The annual total workload of research and teaching staff at Aalto University is 1624 hours. The contract includes occupational health care, social security benefits, and holiday bonus. The positions will be located at the Aalto University Otaniemi Campus (connected to Helsinki by Metro).

How to apply

Please apply through the link "Apply now!" at the bottom of this page. Application material should include (all documents in English):

  • Letter of motivation (maximum one page). The motivation letter is the most important part of your application. It should not be plain a summary of your CV, but explain what motivates you to apply to this position, and how your previous projects give you a background that makes you a good candidate according to the requirements listed above. Tell also how you wish to leverage this position and project to advance your career.
  • Resume or CV (indicating at least your contact information, working history, interdisciplinary collaboration, list of publications, knowledge areas of physics and engineering, experimental skills, language skills, completed and ongoing university degrees indicating the grade point average, and honors and awards).
  • Abstract of your doctoral thesis.
  • Two letters of recommendation or contact details of two possible referees.

Please send your application as a single PDF file at your earliest convenience by 30.11.2019 through the recruitment system ("Apply for this job" link at the bottom of the page).

For further information of the available position, contact Janne Halme, [email protected], +358 50 344 1695.

Aalto University reserves the right for justified reasons to leave the position open, to extend the application period, and to consider candidates who have not submitted applications during the application period. Applications will be considered until the position is filled.

Espoo, October 23, 2019

Aalto University

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