PhD Position in Ion Transport in Structured Colloidal Networks

University of Twente Faculty of Science and Technology



Job description

We invite applicants for a 4 year PhD position on studying ion-transport phenomena using structured colloidal networks as membrane mimics. Colloidal crystal networks can be made charge selective by Debye layer overlap, have tunable properties and can be assembled into a variety of geometries within a micro or millifluidic platform to allow for simultaneous determination of concentration, electrical characteristics and fluid flow. This makes structured colloidal networks an excellent platform for studying ion-transport phenomena in electromembrane processes. For example, it is known that structured or heterogeneous membranes show markedly different performance vs. homogeneous flat membranes in electric-driven processes, inducing wall electro-osmotic flows amongst other effects. Gaining detailed knowledge of the interplay of these effects would provide fundamental knowledge towards how to design membrane materials for improved performance, as well as for related electrochemical processes.

Colloidal networks can be used as controllable model systems for emerging desalination concepts, such as shock electrodialysis. In all of these cases, a detailed understanding of the underlying transport phenomena is crucial and studying ion transport using these networks allows for a wealth of information to be obtained. The insights from this work can then be applied directly in existing electromembrane and related electrochemical processes.

In this project, structured colloidal networks will be used as membrane mimics at the micro/millifluidic scale to experimentally and theoretically study:

  1. Topology/geometry effects in electrodialysis
  2. Osmotic energy conversion in porous networks
  3. Application of colloidal networks in emerging desalination concepts such as shock electrodialysis
  4. Application of porous networks as water-permeable ion-selective membranes for bipolar electrodialysis


    • Design and fabrication of a micro/millifluidic device for experimental characterization of electrical, concentration and flow
    • Controlled placement of colloidal networks within the microfluidic device to understand the role of topology/surface properties on resulting transport phenomena
    • Development of a theoretical (simulation) framework to deepen understanding of experimental results
    • Relating results of colloidal crystal mimic experiments to possible improvements in existing electrodialysis processes

Your profile

  • Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering or related discipline
  • Experience in theoretical and experimental aspects of colloid and interfacial phenomena
  • Familiarity with transport phenomena relevant for ion-transport
  • Experience and affinity with numerical simulations is an asset
  • Previous experimental expertise in microfluidics is a strong asset
  • Excellent communication skills in English are mandatory

Within the Soft Matter, Fluidics and Interfaces (SFI) group we research transport phenomena at the microscale in order to understand and improve chemical processes, such as membrane separations or catalysis. An emphasis is placed on combining experimental and theoretical investigations at the sub-millimeter length scale, relevant to such processes.

SFI is a member of the Membrane Science and Technology cluster, where there are multiple staff members running membrane and membrane-related research lines from the molecular scale to process level. You will be part of and expected to contribute to a dynamic and world-class research environment. You should be eager to engage in international and interdisciplinary collaborative workplace and possess excellent communication skills.


To obtain additional information or if you have any questions, please contact Dr. Jeff Wood (

Your application should consist of:

  • A cover letter (maximum 1 page A4), specifying your motivation in applying for the position.
  • A full Curriculum Vitae including your publications, awards, and working experience. Your CV should demonstrate the scope of your work, education and indicate a good fit with the stated requirements for the position.
  • Two references who can be contacted to discuss

Our offer

We offer you an inspiring multidisciplinary and challenging international and academic environment. The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues in which internationalization is an important part of the strategic agenda.

You will be fulltime employed for four years. Salary and conditions will be in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement (CAO-NU) of the Dutch Universities.

A starting salary of € 2,325.00 in the first year and a salary of € 2,972.00 in the fourth year gross per month;

  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • Minimum of 232 holiday hours in case of full-time employment;
  • Professional and personal development programs;
  • Costs for moving to Enschede may be reimbursed.

The organization

The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which leads change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university of the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. We have a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out groundbreaking research.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability status. Because of our diversity values we do particularly support women to apply.

Within the TNW Faculty (Faculty of Science & Technology) of the University of Twente some 700 staff members and 2000 students are involved in training and research on the interface of chemical technology, applied physics and biomedical technology. Fields of application include sustainable energy, process technology and materials science, nanotechnology and technical medicine. Research, which enjoys a high profile both at home and internationally, has been accommodated in the multidisciplinary research institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centra and Digital Society Institute. The faculty works together intensively with industrial partners and researchers in the Netherlands and abroad and conducts extensive research for external commissioning parties and funders.

In your application, please refer to