PhD position in Nanoparticles and Liquid Crystals (1.0 FTE)
Join an interdisciplinary research group, part of the Debye Institute, to work towards understanding and developing nanomaterials for sustainability.
- Domplein, Utrecht, Utrecht
- Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
- Uren per week:
- 38 - 40 uur
- € 2395 - € 3061 per maand
The focus of this PhD position is investigating how the self-assembly of nanoparticles at liquid crystal surfaces depends on the particle shape and size. The research project will be carried out in the team of Dr Lisa Tran, as part of the Soft Condensed Matter & Biophysics research group at the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science in the Physics Department at Utrecht University.
Controlling the organization of nanoparticles has important implications for tuning material characteristics, impacting electronic and optical properties. Small molecule liquid crystals have been recently employed to assemble nanoparticles because of the ability of liquid crystals to form complex patterns [1, 2]. Yet, the exact interactions between nanoparticles and liquid crystal molecules remain unclear at the submicron scale – the scale where geometry and chemistry inform one another. The project aims to probe this length scale by investigating particle assembly while varying particle chemistry and system geometry.
The research project will involve particle synthesis and modification, microfluidics, and high-resolution microscopy. Simulations of liquid crystals are also employed to visualize liquid crystal structures.
 Tran, L., Kim, H. N., Li, N., Yang, S., Stebe, K. J., Kamien, R. D., & Haase, M. F. (2018). Shaping nanoparticle fingerprints at the interface of cholesteric droplets. Science Advances, 4(10), eaat8597.
 Tran, L., & Bishop, K. J. (2020). Swelling Cholesteric Liquid Crystal Shells to Direct the Assembly of Particles at the Interface. ACS nano, 14(5), 5459-5467.
We are looking for a driven and collaborative student who:
- holds a Master’s degree in physics, material science, or a related field;
- has previous experience with liquid crystals and/or nanoparticle assembly;
- is enthusiastic and curious about working within a collaborative, multidisciplinary team;
- has excellent English communication skills (written and spoken);
- a background in soft condensed matter physics with prior experience in liquid crystals, optical microscopy, particle synthesis, and/or microfluidics is a plus.
We care about diversity and encourage the application of candidates who are underrepresented in the sciences.
- a full-time position for 4 years;
- participation in the education programme of the Graduate School of Natural Sciences;
- access to a network of collaborative Researchers within the Debye Institute;
- a full-time gross salary that starts at €2,395 and increases to €3,061 per month in the fourth year (scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (cao));
- benefits including 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
- a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.
In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the cao for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment yourself via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow.
More information about working at the Faculty of Science can be found here.