PhD in SuFEx click chemistry: Scope & Mechanism

Published on
July 2, 2019
Location Wageningen
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We are looking for

Are you a highly driven and an extremely curious person? Do you have an MSc degree in Organic Chemistry?

Then we are looking for you!

We are looking for a PhD student (AIO) with great interest in discovering the scope and mechanism of novel click reactions. Specifically, molecules and polymers made by so-called SuFEx click reactions are of interest. This PhD position is part of a consortium of 4 universities (in resp. China, Australia, USA and Netherlands), and includes Noble-Prize winner Barry Sharpless as one of the PIs at one of those universities.
Click reactions have changed the face of materials and polymer science drastically. Often such click reactions were azide-alkyne, thiol-ene or maleimide-based additions. However, in 2014 a novel click reaction was discovered by Sharpless, the first class of SuFEx click reactions. Several variations thereof have since been described, and the applications thereof are increasingly being studied. This click reaction is of specific interest due to its unprecedented yield (e.g. >99.9999987% in some polymerizations). The resulting materials are only just becoming available. The primary goal of this project is to study several types of SuFEx and other click reactions, including the reactivity and products of monomeric materials, and study any resulting materials/polymers with techniques as AFM, SEM, DLS, GPC, TEM, fluorescence microscopy, XPS, etc.
Your task would be to study a range of SuFEx-based reactions, and to investigate the mechanism and scope of this family of reactions. Based on your findings, we hope to get insight, and additionally access to new monomers. This should subsequently lead to new SuFEx-based polymers.
This project focusses primarily on fundamental aspects, which we will hope to unravel with you.

We ask

• You are highly driven and extremely curious. “Why?” is a question you often ask, both inside and outside of science;
• You have an MSc degree (or equivalent) in Organic Chemistry;
• You have a strong background and solid hands-on experience in organic synthesis and/or physical organic chemistry, and a strong interest (or preferentially experience) in polymer chemistry is desired;
• You must have a deep understanding of physical and chemical principles to be able to design new reactions, study their properties and develop new materials;
• You aim to excel, and your biggest talents are creativity, persistence and being inquisitive. Your affinity for the collaborative nature of the project, and good written and oral communication skills in English (minimally IELTS 6.5 or TOEFL 90) are crucial for the successful development of this study;
• Only applications that clearly show these facets will be considered.

We offer

We offer you a temporary position 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,- per month in the fourth year.

In addition we offer:
• 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% fixed-year allowance;
• Excellent training opportunities and secondary working conditions;
• An excellent pension scheme via ABP;
• Good supplementary leave arrangements and an individualized model to compose part of your working conditions and a bicycle plan;
• Sports facilities available on campus which can be used against a small fee.

More information

More details about the role can be obtained by contacting Prof. Han Zuilhof, Chair of Organic Chemistry, via or telephone: +31 (0)317 482361. For more information about the contractual aspects, please contact Mrs. Nicole de Vries (HR advisor), e-mail, telephone number +31 317 485 677.

You can apply up to and including May 6th 2019 via the apply button on this page

We are

The Organic Chemistry group ( constitutes a large, interdisciplinary research team involved in teaching and research on organic chemistry, with an emphasis on surface-based reactivity. Our group excels in the field, and aims to continue to do so. The team consists of around 20 PhD students and postdocs, a permanent staff of 7 technical employees, two part-time professors with external expertise, 5 assistant and associate professors and one full-time chair (many of whom have received highly competitive national and ERC personal grants). The laboratory is extremely well-equipped with a unique set of analysis instruments for bio-organic materials and surfaces. In addition to this, the embedding within Wageningen University & Research adds ample biological input into our focus on modified surfaces and functional materials. Currently ca. 1700 students/year take part in one or more Organic Chemistry study elements provided by our faculty.

The Agrotechnology & Food Sciences Group is part of Wageningen University & Research, an organisation that brings together fundamental and applied scientific research. We work on creating ‘healthy food in a biobased society’ with private sector companies, research institutes and government agencies in the Netherlands and abroad. Our innovations play a crucial role in solving the major issues which affect society today. Entrepreneurship and professionalism are key in all that we do. In short, we are a major international employer offering considerable potential for your career.

Wageningen University & Research
Delivering a substantial contribution to the quality of life. That's our focus – each and every day. Within our domain of good and safe food & food production, food security and a healthy living environment, we search for answers to issues affecting society – such as sustainable food production, climate change and alternative energy. Of course, we don’t do this alone. Every day, 5000 people work on ‘the quality of life’, turning ideas into reality, on a global scale.

Could you be one of these people? We give you the space you need.

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