Nature du poste
Direction / Service
Centre d’Enseignement, de Recherche et d’Innovation Energie et environnement
Lieu de travail
IMT Lille Douai (Douai, France) and Centrale Lille (Villeneuve d’Ascq, France)


Scientific field : Materials chemistry and Atmospheric sciences
Co-supervisors : Alexandre TOMAS (IMT Lille Douai), Yannick DESPLANQUES (Centrale Lille)
Funding: IMT Lille Douai

The Centre for Education, Research and Innovation in Energy and Environment (CERI EE) of IMT Lille Douai, France, conducts academic and technological research at the crossroads of ecological and energy transitions. It has ongoing research activities focused on air quality and the impacts of human activities on atmospheric composition. Research projects aim at a better understanding of the physical and chemical processes involved in the formation, transport and aging/transformation of gaseous and particulate pollutants in the outdoor and indoor atmosphere.

General description of the Thesis subject :

This doctoral project aims at studying the mechanisms of emissions of particulate matter (PM) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), produced during railway braking, and their physicochemical determinants (composition of materials, surface condition, thermomechanical stresses). The braking materials and configurations chosen will correspond to industrial braking systems, commonly used for subways and trams.

The objective of the thesis is the characterization, quantification and reduction of PM and VOCs emissions from material wear during braking. The issue of emissions (VOCs and particles) depending on the braking system and its use will be investigated as a priority, by integrating the effects of the microstructure of the surfaces in contact, the size and the physicochemical nature of the emissions close to the source zone, in real time. The investigation methodology is based on the study of a simplified lab-scale system, which will be extended to more complex systems, of industrial type at scale 1. The simplified system will allow to identify and model tribological mechanisms involving surfaces, materials and mechanical systems. This involves activating these different levers, in connection with the conditions of use (demand exerted) to limit emissions at source.

Tribological test equipment will be developed specifically within the 4Maat platform (University of Lille, Centrale Lille, CNRS). It will integrate the measurement, online and off-line, of PM and VOCs emissions at the source, according to an appropriate system (CERI EE, IMT Lille Douai). The aforementioned laboratories have a long experience in the study of tribological mechanisms for the first and in the physico-chemical characterization of gases and aerosols for the second. They participate in the BREAQ industrial project which aims to design innovative rail braking solutions with low pollutant emissions.


The successful candidate will carry out the following activities:

  • Investigate heterogeneous physical chemical processes involved in the emission and the ageing of PM and VOCs during the friction of complex metallic or organic materials
  • Contribute to the design and realization of experimental assays within a multidisciplinary team
  • Determine the physical chemical composition of emitted PM and VOCs using up-to-date techniques involving mass spectrometry and gas chromatography
  • Contribute to characterize the physical chemical properties and surface state of the friction materials
  • Synthetize and interpret the results, write progress reports, expose them to the research groups
  • Ensure a continuous bibliographic review

This doctoral work will be supervised by Pr. Alexandre TOMAS (IMT Lille Douai) and Pr. Yannick DESPLANQUES (Ecole Centrale Lille).


We are looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate with solid background in Physical chemistry of Materials, Heterogeneous an surface physical chemistry, ready to work on challenging, multidisciplinary topics at the crossroads of Materials physical chemistry and Atmospheric sciences. The successful candidate will interact with several research teams and industrial partners, and get a unique expertise in operating state-ofthe-art experimental techniques and instrumentation available in the host institutions.

Qualifications :

  • MSc or Master degree in Materials Science, Physical Chemistry, or a closely related discipline
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English


  • A marked taste to work and develop experimental platforms and measurement systems
  • Experience in Heterogeneous physical chemistry, Surface physical chemistry, Tribology, analytical chemistry
  • Ability to use numerical tools
  • Ability to adapt to multidisciplinary fields
  • Ability to communicate in multicultural environment
  • Ability to work on different locations
  • Driving licence valid in France obtained for more than 3 years will be considered as an advantage
  • Author or co-author of a publication in a peer-review journal or an international communication.


The PhD student will share its working time between two research units, CERI EE (IMT Lille Douai, Douai) and LaMcube (Centrale Lille, Villeneuve d’Ascq).

The two sites are approximately 35 km apart by existing roads and commuter train.

The starting date of the PhD is November 2021.

Applicants have to send:

  • A motivation letter and detailed Curriculum Vitae
  • Academic transcript of the years of Master’s degree
  • Two recommendation letters
  • Summary of the Master’s thesis

Documents have to be sent to Pr. Alexandre TOMAS

Application deadline: 01/08/2021


Prof. Alexandre TOMAS, 03 27 71 26 51

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