Institut Mines-Télécom is hiring an

Internship Master : Investigating the reactivity of atmospheric microplastics

Douai, France


Public establishment belonging to IMT (Institut Mines-Télécom), placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty, IMT Nord Europe has three main objectives: providing our students with ethically responsible engineering practice enabling them to solve 21st century issues, carrying out our R&D activities leading to outstanding innovations and supporting territorial development through innovation and entrepreneurship. Ideally positioned at the heart of Europe, 1 hour away from Paris, 30 min from Brussels and 1h30 from London, IMT Nord Europe has strong ambitions to become a main actor of the current industrial transitions, digital and environmental, by combining education and research on engineering and digital technologies.

Located on two main campuses dedicated to research and education in Douai and Lille, IMT Nord Europe offers research facilities of almost 20,000m² in the following areas:

- Digital science,

- Processes for industry and services,

- Energy and Environment,

- Materials and Processes.

For more details, visit the School’s website :

Summer internship in Atmospheric Science

Microplastics have nowadays been observed in every compartment of the environment. However, in the atmosphere, the presence of this new pollutant is not very well documented and it fate not well understood. So far, atmospheric microplastic particles have been observed in megacities, in remote mountain areas and even over the open ocean, albeit in small number concentrations. Microplastics, as other particles emitted in the atmosphere can undergo aging due to exposure to the oxidative atmosphere and sunlight. This could lead to increased reactions between atmospheric oxidants and the polymers, as they may be altered over time and present a larger exposed surface area then their new counterparts. It is however important to quantify the reactivity of these new pollutants with atmospheric oxidants, as this could affect the oxidation capacity of the atmosphere. Aging microplastics could also be a source of volatile organic compounds, which will affect in their turn the chemical composition of the atmosphere and could potentially have health impacts. Microplastic particles may also physically break further down in smaller particles, that would sediment slower and thus travel over longer distances. This would also imply that their number concentration could get bigger over time. However, currently very little data is available on the aging of microplastic particles in the atmosphere. The internship takes place in the frame of the project DEMELER, that aims to study the reactivity of polymer particles with atmospheric oxidants. This will be done by exposing relevant microplastic particles to atmospheric oxidants, such as ozone and to investigate whether this can lead to the production of volatile compounds.

The internship proposes to (1) quantify and characterize chemically and physically (new) model microplastic particles using total reflectance infrared spectroscopy (ATR-IR), (2) expose these microplastics to an oxidative environment using a DRIFT cell O3 is present, (3) follow gas phase changes, including by online mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) (4) compare the artificially aged microplastics with their initial state using ATR-IR (4) propose hypothesis to explain the observations. Working languages are French & English.

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