PhD position - Multiscale structuring by microfluidics and binary self-assembly of nanoparticles for heterogeneous catalysis and sensing (1.0 FTE)

Updated: 8 months ago
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PhD position - Multiscale structuring by microfluidics and binary self-assembly of nanoparticles for heterogeneous catalysis and sensing (1.0 FTE)


This is a PhD project which takes place within the multidisciplinary center for Multiscale Catalytic Energy Conversions (MCEC ) under the supervision and within the group of Prof Alfons van Blaaderen (Soft Condensed Matter (SCM ), Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science , Utrecht University (UU ). There is a twin-project within the group of Prof Albert van den Berg and lead by Dr Mathieu Odijk at the University of Twente (project also within MCEC) in which a new type of hugely parallelized microfluidic chip has been developed (termed the ‘NanoPede’) with which on gram-scale, monodisperse submicrometer-sized emulsion droplets can be generated. This is an ideal platform to connect to the generation of so-called ‘supraparticles’ by the self-assembly of two different types of colloidal nanoparticles in slowly drying emulsion droplets. A beautiful, very recent example of the characterization and realization of such binary self-assembled supraparticles can be found on the ArXiv (arXiv:1906.10088) as preprint. In general, binary self-assembly of nanoparticles in slowly drying emulsion droplets allows for the creation of heterogeneous catalysts (one type particle acts as support, e.g. silica, other particle as catalyst) in a much more controlled way as compared to conventional methods. If the SA step is performed using plasmonic and catalytic nanoparticles, the platform lends itself to the tuning of so-called hotspots for surface-enhanced-Raman-scattering (SERS), which will also be explored in connection with heterogeneous catalysis.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 801359.


We are looking for a highly motivated and creative PhD candidate who has:

  • a Master's degree or an international equivalent in the relevant fields of Physics, Chemistry and/or Materials Science;
  • research experience within the fields of nano and/or colloid science and/or heterogeneous catalysis (preferably);
  • a strong interest in sustainable energy conversion;
  • excellent research and scientific writing skills;
  • perseverance and an independent, pro-active working style;
  • the willingness to look beyond the borders of his or her own discipline and a strong motivation to work in a multidisciplinary team;
  • excellent collaboration and communication skills (written and verbally) in English;
  • a start of the PhD project asap is a requirement.


We offer a position (1.0 FTE) for four years in an international and interdisciplinary working environment and you will be provided with generous funding for research and training costs. This will provide you with an excellent basis and a strong network for a future career in the field of energy, in academia, industry as well as governance. The gross salary ranges between €2,325  in the first year to €2,972 in the fourth year (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions  (multiple choice model). More information about working at Utrecht University can be found here.

Over de organisatie

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University , the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The city of Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, with a charming old centre and an internationally oriented culture that is strongly influenced by its century-old university. Utrecht city has been consistently ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the Netherlands and the most bicycle-friendly city in the world.

The Faculty of Science consists of six departments: Biology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Information and Computing Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry and Mathematics. The Faculty is home to 6,200 students and nearly 1,500 staff and is internationally renowned for the quality of its research. The Faculty's academic programmes reflect developments in today's society.

The Netherlands Center for Multiscale Catalytic Energy Conversion (MCEC) is a multidisciplinary research program. Within this program chemists, physicists and engineers from Utrecht University (UU; commissioner of the MCEC-program), Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and the University of Twente (UT) join forces in order to address one of the great challenges that our society faces today: sustainable energy conversion. Different research teams work together to develop efficient processes for the conversion of renewable raw materials, such as non-edible biomass, waste and solar energy, fuels and chemical building blocks. MCEC gives academics the opportunity to work on important scientific topics in not previously existing partnerships, thus creating the conditions for innovative, groundbreaking and multidisciplinary research, including experimental as well as theoretical approaches.

MCEC is a so-called Gravitation Program, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW). The programme is cofounded with a grant that has been awarded by Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND programme.

Aanvullende informatie

Additional practical information about the PhD position can be obtained from Prof Alfons van Blaaderen, via .


Candidates are requested to submit an application package consisting of
(1) a motivation letter including a possible start date; 
(2) a curriculum vitae and
(3) copies of relevant diplomas and grade lists.

Please upload your complete application package. To apply, please click the application button below. Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

Reageren uiterlijk 17/01/2020
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