Two PhD positions on New Organic Materials for Environmental Sensor Technology

Gepubliceerd op
2 juli 2018
Locatie Wageningen
Expertisegebied Natural Sciences
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We are looking for

The research group Advanced Materials for Chemical Selectivity, part of the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry (Wageningen University, The Netherlands), is looking for two highly motivated and ambitious PhD students. The group focuses on two research lines on the design and development of i) membrane-based separation strategies for water treatment, with a strong focus on the selective recovery of high-value waste materials, including phosphate, ii) electrical sensor platforms for the selective detection of analytes, mainly gases.
In our work chemical selectivity is key: selectivity to ions or molecules is achieved by synthesizing molecules with functional groups that allow for specific interactions with the species of interest. To integrate these organic materials with membranes, electrodes or sensor platforms we employ different surface chemistry strategies, including covalent attachment or deposition as a thin coating. Various electrochemical, (surface) spectrometric and imaging tools are used to characterize the as-prepared molecules and coated surfaces. While our research is primarily focussed on understanding the fundamentals of separation and detection schemes, we direct it towards topics that are of contemporary interest, mainly in the field of environmental challenges. Examples include the recovery of phosphate, the selective sodium removal from irrigation water and the detection of gases with industrial and/or environmental relevance like, e.g., COx, NH3, and volatile organic compounds.
We are now looking for two PhD students to design, synthesize, and characterize polymer-based porous materials and to integrate these new materials with sensor devices. This work is part of a recently funded NWO START-UP project.
Recent developments in the design and synthesis of polymer-based porous materials and their excellent performance in gas separation studies indicate that such materials are very promising for sensing applications. Porous organic frameworks (POFs) are of special interest: they do not only have a large surface area, they are also highly stable and have large chemical and structural possibilities. The focus of this project is on the integration of new functional POF coatings with sensors, on tuning their on-device selectivity and on understanding the detection mechanisms involved. To prepare the functional POF coatings, two approaches will be pursued: POF particles will be mixed with polymer matrices (PhD#1) and POFs will be grown in-situ from their molecular building blocks onto sensor surfaces (PhD#2).

We ask

PhD candidates require an MSc degree in Chemistry, Molecular (Life) Sciences or comparable curriculum. A strong background in organic chemistry (physical organic, synthetic organic, organic materials) as well as strong analytical and problem-solving abilities are essential. Hands-on experience with polymer or surface chemistry and electrochemistry is desired. Your ability to perform independent lab work, affinity for the collaborative nature of these projects, and good written and oral communication skills in English are crucial for their successful development.

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 €2222,- in the first year rising up to €2840,- per month in the fourth year. 

We not only offer a competitive salary but also good (study) leave and a pension of the ABP Pension Fund.

More information

For more information about this position, please contact Dr Louis de Smet telephone number +31 317481268 and emailadres:,,

For more information about the contractual aspects, please contact mrs Marjolijn Steffens, HR advisor, telephone number +31 317489882,

You can apply online at Vacancy is open until Aug 30, but candidate selection will start from July 5 onwards on the basis of all applications received until then.

We are

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.

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. The group aims to excel in the research and teaching of organic chemistry. The laboratory is extremely well-equipped with a unique set of analysis instruments for bio-organic materials and surfaces, and the group consists of around 20 PhD students and postdocs, a permanent staff of 7 technical employees, two part-time professors with external expertise, 6 assistant and associate professors and one full-time chair. In addition to this, the embedding within Wageningen University & Research adds ample biological input into our focus on chemistry-based bionanotechnology. Currently ca. 1700 students/year take part in one or more Organic Chemistry study elements provided by our faculty.

For further information about working at Wageningen UR, take a look at

Acquisition regarding this vacancy is not appreciated.