Membranes are used to produce drinking water, sequester CO2 and separate chemicals. At the Debye Institute, we research new types of nanomaterial templated membranes. The aim of this PhD project is to develop innovative membranes based on structured porous materials. If successful, the research outcomes of this PhD project can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes and introduce a new technology to produce clean drinking water. 

The PhD project is organized in three research steps: 

  1. engineering of the porous structure in the laboratory and characterization with electron microscopy;
  2. chemical synthesis involving interfacial polymerization of ultra-thin polymer films in the porous material;
  3. analysis of molecular separations within the porous membrane by combining 3D confocal laser microscopy visualization with computer simulations.

The results of this project will improve the understanding of fluid transport in porous materials and potentially introduce a new technology for large-scale membrane separation processes such as seawater desalination, gas, or chemical separations.


We are looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate with a MSc degree in physics, chemical engineering, chemistry, or materials science. You have a strong knowledge in transport processes, physical and colloid chemistry, simulation experience with COMSOL Multiphysics or a similar software, practical laboratory experience in the synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials and in microfluidics. Applications from candidates without these qualifications will also be considered, provided that excellent study results have been achieved.

In addition to the research activities, the PhD position includes teaching assistance in physical chemistry and transport phenomena. You also have good communicative skills in English, both in speaking and in writing.


  • a full-time position for 4 years;
  • participation in the education programme of the Graduate School of Natural Sciences;
  • access to a network of collaborative Researchers within the Debye Institute;
  • a full-time gross salary that starts at €2,395 and increases to €3,061 per month in the fourth year (scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (cao));
  • benefits including 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions  external linkbased on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the cao for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment yourself via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow.

More information about working at the Faculty of Science can be found here  external link.

About the organisation

Utrecht University’s Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science  external linkbrings together six research groups from the departments of Chemistry and Physics. The central research theme is ‘Nanomaterials for Sustainability’, supported by three strong, interconnected research pillars: catalysis, colloids and nanophotonics.

At the Faculty of Science  external linkthere are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes which work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

Utrecht University  external linkis a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world’s happiest cities. We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our familiar atmosphere and the can-do attitude of our people. This fundamental connection attracts Researchers, Professors and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the university and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international and wonderfully diverse community.

Additional information

If you have any questions, please contact Dr Martin F. Haase  external linkvia m.f.haase@uu.nl  external link.

Do you have a question about the application procedure? Please send an email to science.recruitment@uu.nl  external link.


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. If you have the expertise and the experience to excel in this role, then please respond via the “Apply now” button, enclosing:

  • your letter of motivation detailing motivation, research experience, and research interests;
  • your detailed curriculum vitae;
  • copies of your transcripts/certificates;
  • the names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of at least two references.

If this specific opportunity isn’t for you, but you know someone who may be interested, please forward the link to them.

Please note: Due to the current situation regarding the Corona virus (COVID-19) the process of selection and interviews is subject to change. Initial interviews will most likely be conducted online.

Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

The application deadline is 8 January 2021.


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