Postdoctoral Research Associate - Carbon Fiber

Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Apr 12, 2021
May 12, 2021
Field of specialization
Work Function
Job Type


We are seeking a Postdoctoral Research Associate who will focus on the development, processing and characterization of carbon fibers derived from coal-based precursors.  This position resides in the Carbon and Composites group in the Chemical Sciences Division, Physical Sciences Directorate (PSD) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).  


This research will focus on chemical and thermal modification of coal-based precursors and pitches, melt processing the precursors into fibers, and conversion to carbon fibers.  Materials will be characterized through chemical and molecular analysis as well as rheology, TGA, DSC, optical microscopy, SEM, XRD, tensile tests and other thermophysical properties.  Inclusion of neutron scattering techniques and the use of simulation/modeling tools to advance the understanding of the structure-property relationship of the various carbon products will be encouraged.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Work with a diverse team of scientists and engineers seeking to advance scientific understanding of structure-property relationship of fibers and composites and participate in project planning and execution.
  • Perform fundamental and applied research into the characterization and understanding of the properties that affects the processability of various pitches and other carbon precursors.
  • Process various precursors by a variety of techniques, including melt-extrusion, melt-blowing, reactive compounding, etc.
  • Characterize the various carbon precursors, including rheological and thermophysical properties. 
  • Characterize the obtained materials by a variety of methods including thermal analysis, mechanical testing, x-ray and neutron scattering, microscopy, rheology, spectroscopy, and data analysis.
  • Conduct chemical and thermal modification of various precursor materials and establish structure-property-processability relationships.
  • Work in a collaborative team environment and regularly interact with senior scientists, program managers, group members, and industrial partners.
  • Present and report research results and publishing scientific results in peer-reviewed journals in a timely manner, after intellectual property has been protected.
  • Ensure compliance with environment, health and safety, and quality program requirements.
  • Maintain strong dedication to the implementation and perpetuation of values and ethics.


Basic Qualifications:

  • A PhD in Materials Science and Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Polymer Science, or a closely related discipline completed within the last five years.
  • Experience with basic materials characterization techniques, such as TGA, DSC, XRD, SEM.


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience with melt-extruder and/or melt-processing equipment.
  • Experience with chemical and/or thermal modification of polymers, tars, or pitches.
  • Knowledge of rheological measurements.
  • Basic knowledge on the processing of carbon materials from various precursors.
  • Expertise in polymer processing and rheology.
  • Expertise in structural characterization of materials and scattering data analysis.
  • Expertise in thermal analysis and mechanical testing of polymers and polymer composites.
  • An excellent record of productive and creative research demonstrated by publications in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Excellent record of productive and creative research as demonstrated by publications in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills and the ability to communicate to an international, scientific audience.
  • 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.


Special Requirements:

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 up to 24 months with the potential for extension. Initial appointments and extensions are subject to performance and availability of funding.


Three letters of reference are required and can be uploaded to your profile or emailed directly to  Please include the title of the position in the subject line.