PhD scholarship in Confined Water in Artificial and Biological Systems – DTU Electro

Updated: 5 months ago

The disturbed H-bond structure of water under confinement leads to significantly altered physical properties compared to its bulk behavior. In a close interaction with researchers in Finland, you will apply the latest optical probing and excitation techniques rooted at DTU’s Department of Electrical and Photonics Engineering to reveal for the first time the static and dynamic properties of confined water in the terahertz range at nanometer length-scales, with sub picosecond precision. Outcomes from this project will impact diverse fields, including chemistry, biology and medicine.

If you aim at scientific excellence and want to establish a career as a scientist within the cross-section between physics and biology, then we have the ideal opportunity for you.

We invite applicants driven by a deep curiosity to understand confined water at its most fundamental, physical level and its implication in biological systems to apply for a 3-year PhD position. The project will first focus on artificially created environments for confined water via DTU cleanroom fabrication of nano-scale water channels for initial observation of the effect and calibration in a known environment. 

We will then attempt to influence the degree of confinement, or immobilization of water with extremely strong THz pulses. We will then move to relevant biological systems to further study confinement effects.

The project includes:

  • Design, fabrication and characterization of microfluidic chips in the DTU cleanroom
  • Application of a state-of-the-art terahertz scanning near-field microscope (THz-SNOM) on water flowing on the microfluidic chips
  • Application of high-power THz light sources on the microfluidic chips
  • Application of relevant physical models to describe the observed behavior of confined water in the microfluidic chips under THz irradiation
  • Exploration of the role of confined water in biological systems. This will be done at Aalto University in the group of Associate Professor Zachary Taylor.

You will be based in the Ultrafast Infrared and Terahertz Science group headed by Professor Peter Uhd Jepsen. Your main supervisors will be Professor Peter Uhd Jepsen, Associate Professor Edmund Kelleher and Assistant Professor Simon Jappe Lange. 

Responsibilities and qualifications
You will be involved in a project that is an alliance collaboration between our research group at DTU and the group of Professor Zachary Taylor at Aalto University, Finland. 

Your primary responsibility with be to strengthen our ongoing efforts in THz spectroscopy on biological systems. Specifically, in phase I, you will manage the operation of two existing state-of-the-art instruments for nanoscale surface mapping of the dielectric permittivity and for excitation with strong THz electric field transients. You will be responsible for fabrication of nanochannel samples in the clean rooms at DTU. In phase II, we will shift focus towards biologically relevant samples, in close collaboration with the group of Associate Professor Zachary Taylor (Aalto University). 

The successful candidate will also: 

  • Contribute to the collegial environment of a vibrant and international research group
  • Have the opportunity to collaborate with the supervisory team to shape the direction of the PhD project, tailored to their specific interests. 
  • Manage close strategic partnerships with external stakeholders (specifically Aalto University)
  • Lead the analysis and dissemination of research data, including the preparation of research articles, conferences papers, delivery of talks and seminars.

This is an open and unrestricted call. The successful candidate will be chosen on the basis of their record of scientific excellence, and suitability and interest in the proposed project. We expect the successful candidate to: 

  • Be a motivated, self-starter , who enjoys the challenge of solving complex problems
  • Have an excellent record of academic achievement from a globally recognized institution
  • Have hands-on experience in optics (ideally with the operation of ultrafast femtosecond lasers)
  • Have exposure to clean-room fabrication techniques
  • Have the ability to think laterally and the passion to analyze experimental data within the framework of theoretical models
  • Have experience in data analytics using a contemporary scientific programming language
  • Have an excellent command of written and spoken English 

It would be beneficial if you have: 

  • Some training in the form of formal university modules relating to physical chemistry

You must have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programs at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see DTU's rules for the PhD education . 

The application will be assessed by Professor Peter Uhd Jepsen, Associate Professor Edmund Kelleher, and Assistant Professor Simon Jappe Lange. 

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

This position is a full-time position. The tentative starting date is 1 October 2023, but can be adjusted to fit any potential relocation of candidates coming from outside of Denmark.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here .

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Professor Peter Uhd Jepsen, , Associate Professor Edmund Kelleher,  or Assistant Professor Simon Jappe Lange, . 

You can read more about DTU Electro at . 

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark . Furthermore, you have the option of joining our monthly free seminar “PhD relocation to Denmark and startup “Zoom” seminar ” for all questions regarding the practical matters of moving to Denmark and working as a PhD at DTU. 

Application procedure 
Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 1 August (23:59 Danish time). Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply now", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae 
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma (in English) including official description of grading scale

You may apply prior to ob­tai­ning your master's degree but cannot begin before having received it. 

Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Electro employs more than 300 skilled researchers with competencies in electrical and photonics engineering. As a department we strive towards creating sustainable energy and a greener internet, as well as strengthening cyber security and health technology. Working with the industry and public organizations is one of our top priorities to find and implement new solutions to our society.

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear mission to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That mission lives on today. DTU has 13,500 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. DTU has campuses in all parts of Denmark and in Greenland, and we collaborate.

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