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PhD position on responsive nanoplasmonic sensors (filled)

4 years full time position at Eindhoven University of technology


Colloidal particles are microscopic or even nanoscopic particles whose surfaces can be functionalised. Their very large surface areas relative to their small volumes means you can load each one with many molecules to deliver and release drugs or bind pathogens and biomarkers at the target site, opening potential for powerful diagnostic and therapeutic systems. The reason that this potential is yet to be exploited is that these functionalities depend on tight and quantitative control over the number, distribution and activity of chemical groups at the particle surface. The SuperCol Innovative Training Network (ITN, 15 PhD positions in total) will combine super-resolution microscopy, colloidal sciences, and advanced modelling to (a) control, (b) visualize and quantify, and (c) rationally design surface-functionality to advance particle-based biomedical applications.

About the project

Particle-based biosensors are typically coated with biochemical receptors to bind a specific analyte or cell-membrane receptor. The response of the sensor depends on the number and distribution of receptors on the particle surface. The PhD student will develop particle-based sensors with a coating that is responsive to light, pH, or temperature stimuli. The research will be mainly experimental and involve the design of responsive biomolecular coatings, super-resolution microscopy to characterize the coating, and subsequent sensing assays. The final aim is to be able to modulate the density and/or distribution of active receptors on the particle surface using external cues, providing superior sensitivity and dynamic range.

The project will be jointly supervised by Peter Zijlstra and Ilja Voets at TU/e. During the project you will closely collaborate and pay visits to other partners in the project, particularly the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, and the industrial partner NanoSeedz.

About the group

You will be part of the Molecular Plasmonics group, which is embedded in the Molecular Biosensing (MBx) group. We investigate nanotechnologies for single-molecule biophysical studies and biomedical applications. We focus on nanoplasmonic technologies based on particles with a biochemically active surface coating. The particles allow us to capture, detect and actively transport single biomolecules, and to quantify the properties of molecules in complex biochemical fluids. Main research activities in the lab focus on the functionalization and characterization at the single-particle level (using e.g. super-resolution microscopy), and at the development of novel sensing concepts.

About Marie Curie ITN

SuperCol establishes a unique and well-structured training network with leading research labs from European universities and industry in the domain of correlative microscopy and colloidal sciences. The 15 PhD students will form a research team that is embedded in leading industrial and academic R&D labs. This will bridge the gap between the various disciplines by uniting their research efforts to solve the challenges.

The SuperCol project is supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (ITN) under grant No. 860914.

Job requirements

For the PhD position, we seek an enthusiastic and motivated candidate with MSc degree (or equivalent) in Physics, Physical Chemistry, or similar. He/she must have an affinity with optical microscopy and/or colloidal sciences. Experience in the areas of particle-functionalization or super-resolution microscopy are an asset. Good communication skills in English (both written and spoken) are required.

Conditions of employment

We offer you:

  • An exciting job in a dynamic work environment;
  • A full time appointment for four years at Eindhoven University of Technology (
  • The salary is in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2,325 per month initially, to € 2,972 in the fourth year. Moreover, total salary incl. bonuses and allowances in the first three years will be in accordance with the specifications in the MSCA work programme;
  • An attractive package of fringe benefits, including end-of-year bonus (8,3% in December), an extra holiday allowance (8% in May), moving expenses and excellent sports facilities.

Information and application

This vacancy has been filled.

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