Colloidal particles are microscopic or even nanoscopic particles whose surfaces can be functionalized. 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 affinity, number, and distribution of receptors on the particle surface. The PhD student will synthesize polymer colloids with a DNA coating, which is responsive to several stimuli like light, temperature and salt concentration. The research will be mainly experimental and involve the design of the polymer colloids, the responsive DNA coatings, super-resolution microscopy to characterize the coating, and subsequent experiments on colloidal assembly and interparticle interactions. The final aim is to be able to modulate the affinity, mobility, density and/or distribution of active receptors on the particle surface using external cues to achieve super selective binding.
The project will be supervised by Ilja Voets at TU/e. During the project you will closely collaborate and pay visits to other partners in the project, particularly KU Leuven, and the industrial partner DSM.
About the group
You will be part of the Self-Organizing Soft Matter group, which is embedded in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry and the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems. We are an interdisciplinary team of chemists, physicists, biologists, and engineers, studying self-assembly in (biological) soft matter. We seek to understand the simple design rules that orchestrate how complex functionalities emerge from hierarchical self-organization processes aiming ultimately to manufacture and apply innovative lifelike materials in a more environmentally benign, faster, more (energy)efficient, and cheaper fashion. Main research activities in the lab focus on the functionalization of colloidal particles, characterization by e.g. super-resolution microscopy, and orchestrating colloidal self-assembly with remote cues such as light and temperature.
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.
For the PhD position, we seek an enthusiastic and motivated candidate with MSc degree (or equivalent) in Colloid Science, Physical Chemistry, Soft Matter Physics, or similar. He/she must have an affinity with colloid chemistry, polymer particle synthesis, self-assembly, DNA, and quantitative microscopy. Experience in the areas of particle synthesis and functionalization or super-resolution microscopy are an asset. Good communication skills in English (both written and spoken) are required.
We offer you:
More information on employment conditions can be found here: https://www.tue.nl/en/working-at-tue/why-tue/compensation-and-benefits/
Or by contacting the HR-advisor, Leo van Houten (email: l.v.houten(at)tue.nl).
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