2 PhD positions in multiscale characterization and modeling of natural tooth enamel

Updated: 2 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 25 Mar 2024

10 Feb 2024
Job Information

KU Leuven
Research Field

Engineering » Materials engineering
Researcher Profile

First Stage Researcher (R1)

Application Deadline

25 Mar 2024 - 00:00 (UTC)
Type of Contract

Job Status

Hours Per Week

38 hours/week
Is the job funded through the EU Research Framework Programme?

Not funded by an EU programme
Reference Number

Is the Job related to staff position within a Research Infrastructure?


Offer Description

Tooth enamel, being hardest, stiffest and most mineralized tissue in all mammals, is exposed to a chemically and mechanically aggressive oral environment. It is wear-resistant and resilient to cumulative cyclic deformation and high forces over an extended lifetime. Tooth enamel therefore serves as an excellent biological model system that inspires the development of biomedical materials with prolonged clinical lifetime. Understanding the chemical and structural gradient of tooth enamel is also important to develop novel dental treatment procedure such as for caries treatment. However, it remains unclear how the microstructural and chemical heterogeneous structures of tooth enamel adapt to various biomedical feature across species. Therefore, we are seeking two PhD candidates to comprehensively understand the mechanical and chemical resistance of different tooth enamel, in correlation with their 3D-microstructure over multiple length scales.

  • PhD 1: The objective of PhD 1 is to understand the mechanical performances of tooth enamel across various species. This research project will focus on micromechanical testing using in-situ microscopic techniques. Fundamental insights and measurements will be coupled with micro-mechanical simulations. This task will be performed in close collaboration with Prof. Martin Diehl from the Department of Computer Science at KU Leuven.
  • PhD 2: PhD 2 will focus on multi-scale characterization of developmental defects of enamel and their clinical significance. Enamels under different conditions (pristine, deproteinized and dehydrated) will be investigated. Compositional and structural gradients in dental enamel from nano- to microscale will be understood. This task will be performed in close collaboration with Prof. Stevan Čokić from the Department of Oral Health Sciences and Prof. Claudia Fleischmann from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at KU Leuven.

Both projects will collaborate closely with the research team comprising other PhD students and postdoctoral researchers working on the development of bioinspired ceramics. 

Research Field
Medical sciences
Education Level
Master Degree or equivalent



Additional Information

·      A position in a young and dynamic interdisciplinary research group to conduct research towards a PhD at an internationally renowned research university (for further information regarding the PhD track at KU Leuven: https://research.kuleuven.be/en/career/phd/index ).

·      An attractive fully funded scholarship for 4 years of PhD research with multiple benefits (health insurance, access to university infrastructure and sports facilities, etc.). The contract is offered initially for 1 year with an extension up to 4 years after a positive evaluation.

·      The opportunity to develop scientific and personal skills. You will be embedded in a working environment with the expertise from various backgrounds, including materials science, dentistry, biology, and chemistry, etc. More networking opportunities will be offered through participation in conferences, workshops and collaborations with local and international research groups. Information on the training opportunities via https://set.kuleuven.be/phd/dopl/whytraining .

·      A stay in a vibrant environment in the hearth of Europe. The university is located in Leuven, a town of approximately 100,000 inhabitants, located close to Brussels (25 km), and 20 minutes by train from Brussels International Airport. This strategic positioning and the strong presence of the university, international research centers, and industry lead to a safe town with high quality of life, with a warm welcome to non-Dutch speaking people and with ample opportunities for social and sport activities. The mixture of cultures and research fields are some of the ingredients making the university of Leuven the most innovative university in Europe. Further information can be found on the website of the university: https://www.kuleuven.be/english/kuleuven/ .

·      KU Leuven (University of Leuven) has been a center of learning for nearly six centuries. Today, it is Belgium's largest and highest-ranked university and, founded in 1425, one of the oldest and most renowned universities in Europe. The university caters to over 60,000 students from more than 140 countries. KU Leuven's three doctoral schools provide internationally oriented PhD tracks for more than 4,000 doctoral students. KU Leuven and affiliated knowledge institutes provide fertile ground for innovation and high-tech entrepreneurship in the Leuven region. This favorable climate for knowledge-driven entrepreneurship and innovation makes the Leuven region an attractive location for many high-tech companies.

Eligibility criteria

We are looking for highly motivated and passionate candidates to perform the PhD projects on the above-mentioned interdisciplinary research topics.

·      A master's degree in materials engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, (oral) biology, geology, computation engineering or a related discipline. Please indicate your preference on either PhD 1 or PhD 2 in the motivation letter.

·      Background in (computational) mechanics of materials and continuum or microstructural investigations of biominerals is a big plus.

·      Profound interest to work at interdisciplinary boundaries.

·      Passionate about research with a creative mind-set and enthusiasm.

·      Good communication skills in written and spoken English.

Selection process

For more information, please contact Prof. dr. ir. Fei Zhang via mail: [email protected] . Applications should be submitted through KU Leuven’s online platform with detailed CV, short motivation letter and degree transcripts attached.

You can apply for this job no later than 25/03/2024 via the online application tool

Work Location(s)
Number of offers available
KU Leuven
Vlaams Brabant
Postal Code

Where to apply




Vlaams Brabant

Postal Code



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