PhD Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter Soft Particle Dynamics

Published on
July 1, 2019
Location Wageningen
Respond Click here to respond

We are looking for

Do you excel in research? And are you eager to learn and gain new experience? We are looking for a PhD candidate to join the department of Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter to study mesoscopic mechanics in the contact dynamics of deforming grains under cyclic compression.

The individual particles in granular packings are often deformable, such as in piles of fruit, soft cooked rice grains, humidified feed ingredients but also the small particles used in lithium batteries. The deformation of the particles themselves strongly affects the mechanics of the entire packing, yet it is not known how to understand or to effectively model these effects. Especially cyclic loading conditions make these effects very visible and seem to imbue a form of mechanical memory in the packing. Cyclic loading and the ensuing change in mechanical properties of the granular packings are often problematic in industrial settings. The aim of this study is to quantify the collective behavior in the contact mechanics of particle packings under cyclic loading. Deformable grains exhibit non-local mechanical effects that emerge due to the coupling of multiple contacts on the same deforming grain.

In this study we aim to reveal the origin of the mesoscopic organization by experimentally studying deformable grain packings of different sizes under cycling loading. Core aspect is the three dimensional imaging of said packings in various imaging modalities. Developing imaging and mechanical testing setups will be a core aspect of the work. The handling of 3D image data sets, from feature extraction to physical interpretation of data is a central element of the position. The research work is part of a larger network of international partners in the context of the EC-funded Horizon 2020 “Marie Curie” MSCA Innovative Training Network (ITN) “CALIPER” ( CALIPER aims to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanics of granular materials and suspensions by merging DEM approaches with the latest developments in the field of three dimensional imaging.

We ask

Your profile should signal:
• Physics background: you are holding a master’s degree in (fluid) mechanics, process engineering, chemical engineering, (technical) physics, particle technology or similar.
• You have a basic understanding of granular materials and feel at ease with complex instrumentation such as X-ray tomography and rheometers.
• Software and programming background: you have at least basic programming skills in Matlab/Octave/Python, and you should be open to use a Linux-based operating systems, as well as computing clusters.
• Advanced skills in C/C++ is a strong plus.
• Having Modeling and simulation expertise is a plus; for example, you are already a user of Discrete Element Method-based or CFD-DEM-based simulators such as LIGGGHTS®, CFDEM® or OpenFOAM®.
• You are goal-oriented and well-organized and you have the capability to learn rapidly and sustainably.
You are able to communicate socially and effectively using English as a language. 
As the project is funded within the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), researchers can be of any nationality but need to demonstrate transnational mobility. To be eligible applicants must satisfy the requirements that apply to all Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early Stage Researchers, therefore on the date of appointment (their start date) applicants should be junior researchers with a recently obtained (max 48 months ago) MSc degree. As one of the goals is to stimulate transnational mobility for the future generation of scientists, applicants should have spent less than 12 months (out of the previous 36) living, studying or working in the Netherlands.
In this ITN consortium, each recruited researcher will be seconded to other beneficiaries and/or to partner organizations for a duration of up to 30% of his/her recruitment period. For this project currently three secondments are tentatively planned: 5 months in 3SR Grenoble, as well as several months in companies Meler (Spain) and Bosch (Germany). Also attendance in off-site training events and meetings is expected.

We offer

We offer you a challenging position, starting in September-December 2019, for a period of 1.5 years with extension of 2.5 years after successful evaluation.  Gross salary per month € 2325,- in the first year rising up to € 2972,- in de last year. In line with ITN funding rules, a travel compensation is part of the benefits.

You will enroll in the VLAG graduate school at Wageningen University, which offers a wide range of excellent career broadening and deepening courses, also from the Caliper network. As this project is part of a broader industry collaboration, you will interact with and be able to learn from both academic and private sector professionals

In addition, we offer:
• 8% holiday allowance;
• a structural year-end bonus of 8.3%;
• excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
• flexible working hours and holidays;
• excellent pension plan through ABP;
• 232 vacation hours based on a working week of 38 hours, the option to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes;
• a choice model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
• a lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented;
• use the sports facilities on campus against reduced fee.
Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for own initiative in a learning environment.
We offer a versatile job in an international environment with varied activities in a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

More information

For more information about this position, please contact dr. Joshua Dijksman, assistant professor, at

Your application
Please provide a 1 page CV and a 1 page statement of interest; we will use these for shortlisting candidates. We would also like to have the names of up to three references; you can include letters where available. Such supplementary information and any other info that might be of interest can be included in addition to the required 1 page CV + statement.

This vacancy is open until 1 August 2019.

We are

Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter at Wageningen University is interested in phenomena at the nanoscale, where creative chemistry is essential, complex physics is a rule rather than an exception and biology comes the life. The laboratory works on Soft Matter in the broadest sense of the word, combining experiment and theory, chemistry and physics and fundamental and applied science. The laboratory has a large range of state-of-the art equipment. See

The Agrotechnology & Food Sciences Group is part of Wageningen University & Research where fundamental and applied sciences complement each other. As an important European player, we carry out top-level research and work alongside authoritative partners within the international business world as well as the government on “Healthy food in a biobased society”. We have a crucial role in innovations within the market. Entrepreneurship and professionalism are what define us. In short, we are an interesting, international employer of stature.

The mission of our University is to explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life. Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialised research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With approximately 30 locations, 5,000 employees, and 10,000 students, it is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen.
Could you be one of these people? We give you the space you need.

For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at


Acquisition regarding this vacancy is not appreciated.


Apply now