Microfluidic approaches to induce phase transitions (PhD or Postdoc)

Vrije University


Microfluidic approaches to induce phase transitions (PhD or Post-doc)

Duration: 4y (PhD) or 2y (post-doc)

Start: 1/6/19 + max 3 months (Enschede/NL (75%) and Brussels/B (25%))

The formation of liquid compartments is a critical event in many physiological processes in cells. It has only been realized recently that this event, which can also give rise to undesired and uncontrolled precipitation processes, plays a key role in phase transition related diseases as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In the context of reactor engineering and drug development, the potential of microfluidic devices to produce monodisperse (micro)droplets and particles in the context of drug delivery has been recognized and investigated intensively in our group, e.g. to improve the accommodation of pancreas cell transplants in the context of diabetes. Our group is also developing optically active particles with a sensory function. To improve the understanding of the droplet, particle and gel formation processes for the above themes, a number of dedicated flow devices will be developed the coming years wherein the formation of individual droplets and particles and their subsequent maturation can be studied under highly controlled conditions.

The research will take place predominantly at the Mesa+ Institute for Nanotechnology (UTwente) in Enschede, The Netherlands (host and co-promotor: Prof. Han Gardeniers), in close in interaction with the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in Brussels, Belgium (promotor: Prof. Wim De Malsche), where frequent research stays will be organized for experimental characterization.   

Job description

We are hiring a PhD student or a post-doc researcher that can design and fabricate dedicated microfluidic devices for studying phase transitions, crystallization and precipitation with relevance for the pharmaceutical and chemical industry. The developed devices will be characterized and used for medical and chemical researcher by around 10 researchers at the VUB, ensuring large impact of your work. For all the developed devices, you will be involved in the proof-of concept experiments for which you will spend around 1/4th of your time at the VUB in Brussels.  

You will design microfluidic devices and develop microfabrication protocols for glass, silicon and polymeric devices in the state-of the art Nanolab Cleanroom at UTwente. You will also be involved in the demonstration of proof-of-concepts of the devices developed for phase transitions.  This dynamic atmosphere will enable you to make important contributions on both the fundamental physics side as on the medical and chemical application side. You will interact with and present your results to a network of industrial and academic partners involved in the project.

Your profile

You have a master or a PhD in physics, electrical, biomedical or chemical engineering and you are interested in microfluidics, microreactors, microfabrication and material engineering. You are creative, comfortable with both experimental and theoretical work, and result oriented. You can function independently and are willing to travel frequently between The Netherlands and Belgium. Experience with Multiphysics simulation software (Comsol) is a plus. You are familiar with CAD programs. We expect the candidate to have excellent command of the English language as well as professional communication and presentation skills.

Interested? Contact Prof. Wim De Malsche (wim.de.malsche@vub.be)


In your application, please refer to Polytechnicpositions.com