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Postdoc position (AMOLF, Amsterdam): Stochastic Molecular Matter

In the last ten years, mechanical metamaterials have been engineered that exploit non-linear mechanical interactions between precisely designed building …

12 maanden geleden


Van Vollenhovenlaan, Utrecht, Utrecht
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
40 uur
€ 4237 - € 4237 per maand


In the last ten years, mechanical metamaterials have been engineered that exploit non-linear mechanical interactions between precisely designed building blocks, to achieve e.g. tunable auxetic behavior, stiffness, and phononic band-gap behavior. So far, these approaches have been mostly limited to macroscopic, centimeter-sized building blocks that can be fabricated using tools such as 3D printing, molding, laser cutting, and folding. As a result, the response of current mechanical metamaterials is fully deterministic and only depends on the magnitude of the applied loading and, if the behavior is hysteric, also on the loading path. At the same time, at the molecular level, new methods of DNA synthesis have been exploited to engineer nanoscopic objects, also referred to as DNA origami. While a range of shapes and modular building methods has been explored in these systems, so far they have been limited to a high degree of rigidity and stability. In contrast, single-molecule biophysics techniques such as optical tweezers have increasingly exposed the prevalence and functional utility of dynamics and stochasticity within biological molecular systems. They not only allow for autonomous self-assembly of complex structures and materials, but also exploit intricate cooperative effects to generate specific conformational dynamics. These recent developments now create the unique and pressing opportunity to engineer a new class of stochastically active metamaterials at the molecular level, which present an original direction within each of the three aforementioned disciplines.

The Biophysics group (PI Sander Tans) studies biological systems at the single-molecule and single-cell level. Examples include the use of optical tweezers and single molecule fluorescence to probe chaperone-guided protein folding, and precise cellular tracking to elucidate the propagation and feedback of noisy molecular signals within growing cells. See also tansgroup.amolf.nl


At the start of the PostDoc, you need to meet the requirements for a doctors-degree. The position is open to candidates from a range of backgrounds, including Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Mathematics, or a related field. We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with a go-getter mentality. Preferably, the candidate has a strong experimental background, in combination with a sound appetite for numerical/theoretical work. Experience with single-molecule techniques and DNA engineering is an advantage, but not required. Excellent verbal and written communication skills (in English) are essential. NWO-I prefers candidates who have qualifying experience (e.g. as PhD student or postdoctoral researcher) in a scientific research institute abroad.


You will be employed by NWO-I for a fixed period of two years. Your salary will be up to a maximum of 4,237 euro gross per month, depending on your level of experience. The salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8 percent and an end-of-year bonus of 8.33 percent. The conditions of employment of NWO-I are laid down in the Collective Labour Agreement for Research Centres (Cao-Onderzoekinstellingen), more exclusive information is available at this website under Personeelsinformatie (in Dutch) or under Personnel (in English). General information about working at NWO-I can be found in the English part of this website under Personnel. The Recruitment code applies to this position.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact Prof.dr.ir. Sander Tans, Group leader Biophysics, 31 20 754 71 00 or Dr.ir. Bas Overvelde, Group leader Soft Robotic Matter, +31 20 754 71 00.


The Biophysics group and the Soft Robotic Matter group at AMOLF are looking for a postdoc who will work at the interface between single-molecule biophysics and mechanical metamaterials. In this project, we aim to generate and study a novel type of complex matter that we refer to as stochastic molecular matter, a mechanical metamaterial that is self-assembled from molecular building blocks that stochastically jump between bi-stable states. This idea combines recent developments in mechanical metamaterials, DNA synthesis of nanoscopic objects, and single-molecule biophysics, and could lead to materials showing excitability, oscillations, logical computations, as well as large-scale motion.