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Postdoctoral Researcher in Theoretical Geochemistry (2.5 years) (1.0 FTE)

The aim of the project is to use the new experimental and simulation results to develop a new nucleation theory.

3 maanden geleden


Domplein, Utrecht, Utrecht
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
36 - 40 uur
€ 2790 - € 3619 per maand


The Department of Earth Sciences is now looking for a highly-motivated, high-potential applicant to fill a postdoctoral (PD) position within the project 'CRYSTAL CLEAR: determining the impact of charge on crystal nucleation'.

All of the crystals that form in water on Earth are formed through reaction between oppositely charged ions. In these crystals, the ions are present in an ideal, charge-balanced ionic ratio. In contrast, the natural solutions in which they form, contain widely diverging ionic ratios. When crystals nucleate from natural solutions, they will be charged, and the charge has a massive impact on the behaviour of small new crystals. However, most nucleation experiments have been conducted in solutions with charge-balanced ionic ratios and the current nucleation theory is based on water condensation.

In the CRYSTAL CLEAR project, which started in 2019, we aim to determine the impact of ionic ratio on ionic mineral nucleation processes experimentally, computationally and theoretically. The first results of our project show that the current nucleation theory, which is capable of describing crystal formation rates and mechanisms of neutral nuclei, fails in conditions where nuclei are charged. Two experimental PhD candidates investigate the impact of diverging ionic ratios on the nucleation of various minerals (barium sulfate, calcium carbonate and iron (di)sulfide minerals). One postdoctoral Researcher (PD) performs molecular dynamics simulations of the formation mechanism and stability of the nuclei formed, and this advertisement is for the second PD in this project.

The aim of the current PD project is to use the new experimental and simulation results to develop a new nucleation theory that includes the impact of charge on the behaviour of (pre) nucleation clusters during formation and aggregation. This will be approached by unifying colloid theories that successfully describe and predict nanoparticle behaviour in relation to particle charge with nucleation theory, using new expressions obtained in collaboration with the other CRYSTAL CLEAR team members and experts in the field of charge stabilized colloid physics and chemistry and nucleation theory development.


We seek an enthusiastic PD candidate, holding a PhD degree (at the start of the contract) that ensures appropriate background knowledge in colloid or ccondensed matter physics, physical colloid (geo-)chemistry, nanogeosciences, mineral nucleation and growth, environmental mineralogy, (environmental) chemistry, or material sciences. Experience in theory development and/or numerical modelling is required.

You approach scientific problems with determination and you are eager to develop multidisciplinary skills. You must be willing to travel abroad to present your research to an international research community. As this project requires close collaboration within the research team, candidates are expected to be excellent team players. You also have excellent written and spoken English skills and good general communicational skills.


We offer a temporary position (1.0 FTE) for a period of two and a half years. The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience - ranges between €2,790 and €3,619 (scale 10.0-10.6 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.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Mariëtte Wolthers (Project Leader), via M.Wolthers@uu.nl.