Postdoctoral Research Associate in Precision Manufacturing of Microporous Thin Films

Updated: 2 months ago
Location: Durham, ENGLAND
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 05 Jan 2023

Department of Chemistry

Grade 7: - 35,333 Per Annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 05-Jan-2023, 7:59:00 AM


Department Chemistry
Grade Grade  7
Term 30 months Fixed Term Contract
Salary Range £35,333 Per annum
Closing Date 4th January 2023
Working Arrangements This role is full time but we will consider requests for flexible working arrangements including potential job shares

Durham University

Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

Less than three hours north of London, and an hour and a half south of Edinburgh, County Durham is a region steeped in history and natural beauty. The Durham Dales, including the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are home to breath-taking scenery and attractions. Durham offers an excellent choice of city, suburban and rural residential locations. The University provides a range of benefits including pension and childcare benefits and the University’s Relocation Manager can assist with potential schooling requirements.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve.

The Department

Chemistry at Durham is a thriving centre of scientific activity for teaching and for world-leading research in the chemical sciences. It is located at the heart of the University Science site and just a 10-minute walk from the city centre. Durham University is global top-100 University (QS world rankings, 2022) and is consistently in the top five in major UK league tables. Research in the Chemistry Department is interdisciplinary and is organised into six research groupings: bioactive chemistry and synthesis; Catalysis and Sustainable Chemical Processes; Computational and Dynamics; Functional Molecules and Materials; Physical organic and assembly; Soft Matter and Interfaces. Through these groupings we focus on tackling global challenges across three core themes, manufacturing the future, bio-economy and new material discovery.  This project will sit within the Soft Matter and Interfaces theme.

The Role

The Complex Fluids and Interfaces research group led by Prof Colin Bain in the Department of Chemistry, Durham University, invites applications for a Postdoctoral Research Associate to work on a project entitled “Design theory-based nanostructured leaf-vein networks for selective VOC sensing (DIVINE )”, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The position is full time for a duration of 30 months.

In DIVINE, we seek to develop new sensors for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) based on thin films of metal-oxide quantum dots which have well-controlled porosity on multiple length scales, inspired by natural systems, such as the veins of leaves, that are optimised for mass transport.

The role holder will be expected to lead or contribute to the objectives of a number of work packages:

  • characterise and control the dynamics of drying of volatile ink droplets containing metal-oxide quantum dots on a range of active and passive substrates;
  • develop strategies for the formation of porous materials with controlled porosity on multiple length scales using a range of printing approaches, including the formulation of inks to achieve this objective;
  • develop a fundamental understanding of the mechanism and fabrication conditions for the formation of hierarchically porous Murray structures with the designed inks;
  • tune ink formulation to optimise the ink rheology for printing stability and reproducibility and to obtain the best sensor performance;
  •  assist with material integration for large-scale printing and statistical variability measurements in sensor performance.
  • The role holder will work with Prof Colin Bain and Dr Lisong Yang at Durham University in collaboration with the lead scientist on the project, Prof Tawfique Hasan at the Cambridge Graphene Centre, Cambridge University, and Prof. Julian Gardner at Warwick University.

    Applicants should have (or be close to obtaining) a PhD in Chemistry, Materials Science, Engineering, Physics or a relevant technical discipline.  Applicants will be expected to have successfully defended their PhD thesis before commencing their employment.

    To perform the role, the applicants will need to have excellent presentation, technical writing and scientific illustration skills. The applicant must be able to work independently and in teams within and outside the university, with excellent organization, communication and time-management skills. They will have the ability to think independently and formulate solutions to experimental problems.

    Role responsibilities:

    • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
    • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
    • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer-reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator.
    • To assist with the development of research objectives and proposals.
    • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator.
    • To work with the Principal Investigator, Co-Investigators and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.
    • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator and offering creative or innovative solutions.
    • To liaise with research colleagues and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.
    • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
    • To deliver training in research techniques/approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
    • To be involved in student supervision, as appropriate, and assist with the assessment of the knowledge of students.
    • To foster a collegial and respectful working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
    • To engage in wider citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.
    • To engage in continuing professional development by membership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant training and development courses.   
    • To maintain detailed project and experiment records in lines with project data management plan.
    • To attend project meetings.

    This post is fixed term for 30 months.  The earliest start date 1 February 2023. The project is time-limited and will end on 31 January 2026.  The successful applicant will commence work as soon as possible after the project start date and not later than 1 August 2023. 

    The post-holder is employed to work on research project which will be led by Prof. Bain. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in their own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

    The Requirements


  • Qualifications
    • A PhD in Chemistry, Materials Science, Engineering, Physics or a related subject, on a topic that is relevant to the DIVINE project. 
    • Applications are welcome from candidates who have submitted or are about to submit their PhD thesis but who have not yet defended their thesis.


    • Experience in conducting high-quality academic research.
    • Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly ranked journals.
    • Demonstrable ability to present research papers at national/international conferences and to communicate complex information to specialists and to the wider academic community.


    • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participation in research meetings.
    • Ability to work independently and to deadlines.
    • Ability to use their own initiative to find creative solutions to problems.
    • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.



    • Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
    • Experience in microfluidics or precision manufacturing technologies, such as slot-die or inkjet printing or direct ink writing (DIW).
    • A background in colloid science or formulation of complex liquid products.
    • Knowledge of optical and/or electron microscopy.

    How to Apply

    For informal enquiries please contact Prof Colin Bain by email: .  All enquiries will be treated in confidence.

    We prefer to receive applications online via the Durham University Vacancies Site. . As part of the application process, you should provide details of 3 (preferably academic/research) referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference.

    Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates.

    What to Submit

    All applicants are asked to submit

    • a brief academic CV;
    • a covering letter that details your experience, strengths and potential in relation to the Requirements set out above;
    • a full publication list explaining your contribution to each article or other academic output.

    Additional documents that have not been requested will not be considered as part of your application.

    Next Steps

    Candidates will be assessed against the criteria set out above. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview, provisionally in the week beginning 9 January 2023. In-person interviews are preferred but interviews can be conducted online if necessary.

    If you have any questions about this vacancy or the application process, please contact Prof Colin Bain ( ) for queries of a technical nature related to the role and for queries related to the application process.

    DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.

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