PhD candidate in Molecular Fluorescence Microscopy

Updated: 9 months ago
Deadline: 01 Jun 2019

The Van't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) is one of eight institutes of the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty of Science. HIMS performs internationally recognized chemistry and molecular research, curiosity driven as well as application driven. This is done in close cooperation with the chemical, flavour & food, medical and high-tech industries. Research is organised into four themes: Sustainable Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Computational Chemistry and Molecular Photonics.

The Molecular Photonics  group is active in various areas of photophysical and photochemical research, and collaborates with many other researchers in the fields of chemistry, medicine, and physics. It participates in the Holland Research School of Molecular Chemistry , a graduate school of the University of Amsterdam, VU University Amsterdam, and Leiden University, that provides training of PhD candidates via courses and summer schools.

Project description

Friction, lubrication and wear are ubiquitous phenomena in daily life and of crucial importance in engineering. For example, almost a third of the world energy consumption is due to friction, but our fundamental understanding of how this friction emerges is far from complete. In this project we will develop novel fluorescence tools for the experimental study of frictional contacts with microscopic resolution. This is done in a collaboration with the Soft Matter group of the Institute of Physics (prof. Daniel Bonn). The chemistry part of the collaboration revolves around unique new applications of molecular fluorescence and requires a good understanding of the fundamental photophysical properties of the molecules used, and the influence of the chemical and physical environment of the molecules on their dynamics. For some of the previous work see Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.2015, 54, 3688; Nat. Commun.2018, 9, 888; ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces2018, 10, 40973.

As appointed PhD candidate for this project you will perform experimental research involving a broad range of chemical methods and you will collaborate on the physical methods with the Institute of Physics. Molecular chemistry is needed to design fluorescent probe molecules. In order to characterize their properties, spectroscopic experiments are employed. Fundamental studies of the behavior of molecules in contact are performed using fluorescence microscopy, including single molecule experiments. For applications to contact mechanics, fluorescence will be combined with tribology experiments, carried out at the Institute of Physics.

Because the project is embedded in the environment of two active research groups, the PhD candidate can benefit from the collaboration with other researchers who have specific knowledge of all relevant subject areas in the project. Thus, you do not need to master all facets of the project from the start. An open mind and ability to learn, however, are essential capabilities.


What do we require of you?

  • MSc degree in a relevant field (chemistry/physical chemistry);
  • affinity with experimental physical chemistry;
  • the ability to work both independently and as a team member;
  • good communication skills in English;
  • excellent learning ability;
  • experience in at least one of the relevant fields: synthesis, microscopy, or laser spectroscopy.

If you will obtain your MSc degree no later than May 1, 2019, you can still apply. The starting date of your PhD contract will be slightly after the date that you obtain your Master.

Further information

For further information, please contact:


The desired start date of the project is in March 2019 but excellence prevails over starting date.

The full-time appointment will be on a temporary basis for a maximum period of four years (18 months plus a further 30 months after a positive evaluation) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. Based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2,325 in the first year to €2,972 in the final year, according to the Dutch salary scales for PhD candidates. This is excl. 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end of year bonus. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities  is applicable.

Job application

The UvA is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. We value a spirit of enquiry and endurance, provide the space to keep asking questions and cherish a diverse atmosphere of curiosity and creativity.

You may apply using the link below. Please upload the following information in a single PDF file (not zipped):

  • cover letter/letter of motivation (at most 1 page), why did you choose to apply for this position and briefly describe your skills in the areas of molecular synthesis, microscopy and spectroscopy;
  • CV, including list of publications;
  • the names and contact details (email and telephone numbers) of two academic references.

We will recruit until the position is filled. The selection process commences immediately, but will close when a suitable candidate has been found, even if this prior to the final date of the application window. #LI-DNP

No agencies please

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