SENTINEL: Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN Early Stage Researcher (PhD student) - one position remaining...

Updated: 9 months ago
Deadline: 01 Mar 2020

ESR14: CMOS-Based Nanocapacitor Arrays

Objectives: We will explore single-entity detection for biosensing using high-frequency CMOS-based nanocapacitor arrays.

Expected Results: Biosensors that rely solely on electrical detection are highly desirable for integration with electronics on the same chip, enabling new assays based on ‘digital’ detection. Instead of measuring the average response to a large number of molecules, digital sensors aim to detect individual molecular interactions as discrete, countable events at large numbers of parallel detectors, thus achieving extreme sensitivities. An important bottleneck, however, has been the lack of a suitable method for easily converting single-entity (bio)chemical information directly into electrical signals. Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS), which uses AC signals to probe the medium near an electrode, is in principle ideally suited for this purpose, but stray capacitance has largely prevented its use in nanoscale systems. We have previously demonstrated (C. Laborde et al., Nature Nanotech. 10, 791 (2015)) that this hurdle can be overcome by integrating the electrodes directly into a CMOS microelectronics chip, yielding arrays of individually addressable nanoelectrodes operated at frequencies that are orders of magnitude higher than previously possible. In the present project, we will explore the use of this platform to develop massively parallel digital assays, with the ultimate aim of detecting and fingerprinting individual macromolecules in a label-free manner. The project is a close collaboration with industry partner NXP Semiconductors.

This position will be based at the University of Twente and will be co-supervised by Elements SRL .

Planned Secondments:

Elements SRL - Development of CMOS Potentiostats . The ESR will learn fabrication of portable potentiostats using microchips (ASICs) and standard CMOS processes.

University of Tokyo - Nanodevices for Single-Entity Measurements. The ESR will learn about advanced nanofabrication techniques for the development of functional nanofluidics devices with single-entity sensitivity.

ETH Zurich - Force Controlled Single Cell Analysis . This secondment will rely on the FluidFM technology. The ESR will employ an atomic force microscope (AFM) based on hollow cantilevers for local liquid dispensing and stimulation of single living cells under physiological conditions.

The Employer

The University of Twente is a leading Dutch technical research university with a strong track record in connecting technology and engineering to businesses, organisations and real-world needs. The research will be embedded in the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, one of the world’s largest nanoscience institutes working on key enabling nanotechnologies: photonics, micro- and nano-electronics, biomolecular and polymer science, advanced materials, lab-on-chip and nanofluidics.

You will work in the Bioelectronics group, an internationally oriented group conducting both fundamental and exploratory applied research at the interface between physics, electrochemistry and nanoscience. Other ongoing project lines include electrochemical nanofluidics, conducting polymers as ‘electrical labels’ in biosensors, and single-molecule strategies for trace-level liquid biopsies.

Your profile

You have a background in physics, physical chemistry, electrical engineering or a closely related discipline. You have strong communication skills, including fluency in written and spoken English. You are enthusiastic, highly motivated to do a PhD and can function in a broader team. While our primary focus is on experiments, interests and aptitudes for theory are also desirable.

The SENTINEL Programme

SENTINEL is a four-year Marie Skłodowska Curie European Training Network which began in January 2019 and will be coordinated by Dr Paolo Actis at the University of Leeds. Applications are invited for highly qualified and motivated young researchers to work full time on projects under a three-year PhD program hosted across seven European countries.

Through a series of secondments each ESR will have the opportunity to benefit from the expertise offered by other organisations within the SENTINEL consortium. Secondments will be 1-4 months duration each ( 7 months in total for each ESR over the whole project programme). Refer to the details of each ESR position below for more information about the planned secondments.

What is SENTINEL about?

The SENTINEL program will tackle electrochemistry at the level of individual entities such nanoparticles (metal, semiconducting, soft matter), living cells at the nanoscale, as well as single redox-active (macro) molecules. The study of systems at this level is a hugely important emerging area of electrochemistry which is inter/multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral.

Electrochemistry is the enabling science to address key problems of major societal relevance, spanning from electrocatalysis, in the context of energy conversion (e.g. fuel cells and solar cells) and energy storage (battery and water splitting technologies), to the development of advanced analytical tools for environmental monitoring and point-of-care medical diagnostics. The aim of SENTINEL is to join leading teams from across Europe, with global partners in industry (SMEs and multinationals) and the academic sector in the USA and China so that together they can equip a next generation of scientists with the skills to help impact society with new technological developments in this critical area of science.

SENTINEL will complement its scientific training with innovative and world-class coaching techniques. For example, employing sport related concepts to empower the researchers with leadership skills, engaging them in the art of scientific illustration through a successful science-art business with over 800K likes on Facebook, and using a campaigning charity to equip them with the skills needed to make their voices heard in public debates about science. These training sessions will be supplemented by business leaders from the (electro) chemical community sharing lessons in product development, IP protection and project management.

SENTINEL is distinct, new and ambitious.

How to apply
  • Please note this position will remain open only until it is filled and therefore you should submit your application as soon as possible.

Please send your application in PDF format to and and please write SENTINEL ESR14 in the subject line of your email. Your application should consist of:

  • Your CV

  • Your full contact details

  • A statement about your research interests

  • A copy of the certificate for your Diploma and/or Masters Degree

  • Contact details for at least 3 referees

This advert will be removed at any time once the position has been filled.

Shortlisted candidates who are unable to attend in person will be offered the opportunity for an interview via Skype.

View or Apply

Similar Positions