PhD position: High resolution AFM visualization of adsorption and desorption reactions at calcite-electrolyte and calcite-oil interface

Research / Academic


"High resolution AFM visualization of adsorption and desorption reactions at calcite-electrolyte and calcite-oil interface".

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) has the ability to image surfaces at high resolution and measure forces between surfaces. Goal of this project is to obtain and use AFM molecular resolution imaging data to enable a better understanding and identification of mechanism of adsorption/desorption processes of ions and polar organic molecules on carbonate surfaces. Particular attention will be devoted to solve the true atomic structure of idealized model surfaces (calcite) and the natural calcium carbonates surfaces in variable electrolyte compositions, to the identification of precise adsorption sites of ions, lateral variations in ion adsorption (e.g. due to steps, defects) or CaCO3 crystallites polymorphs. The experiments will primarily be carried out at room temperature and then extended to elevated temperatures, which shifts the location of chemical equilibria and may, therefore, promote the adsorption/desorption of ions and hydrophobizing organic species. The second phase of this project will be devoted to high resolution imaging and 3D-interaction force mapping in ambient oil.

The research goal of the Physics of Complex Fluids (PCF) group is to understand and control the physical and chemical properties of solid-liquid interfaces across multiple scales ranging from atomic scale adsorption processes to macroscopic chemical reactivity and wetting. The fundamental understanding that we generate is relevant to a variety of applications such as coating and printing technology, lubrication, (photo) catalysis, and oil recovery. To address the scientific questions we use a combination of experimental techniques including high resolution Atomic Force Microscopy, optical imaging techniques (confocal/fluorescence microscopy, interferometry, ellipsometry), Raman spectroscopy, microfluidics, (micro) rheology and various other analytical surface characterization tools.

The PCF group is part of the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, which offers advanced characterization and fabrication tools on the nanoscale as well as a stimulating environment with more than 250 PhD students working on various aspects of nanoscience and technology.

A PhD position is available at the University of Twente (the Netherlands) within the MESA+ institute for nanotechnology, and it aims at understanding physico-chemical aspects of the interaction of carbonate minerals with complex aqueous and non-aqueous fluids. The position is embedded in a larger program in collaboration with an industrial partner that involves in total 5 temporary researchers in Twente.


For this position we are searching for an ambitious candidate with a Master’s Degree in Physics, Physical Chemistry or Materials Science. A solid background in Surface Science and previous experience using AFM or other surface analysis (scanning probe microscopy) equipment would be significant benefits. Considering the strongly collaborative nature of the project within the program, we are looking for a team player with good communication skills.


Further information can be found on our website: or obtained by contacting Prof. Frieder Mugele ( or Dr. Igor Siretanu (

Applications are welcome via the link below before April 8, 2019 and should include a specific motivation letter reflecting on the goal and challenges of the advertised project in relation to the interests and skills of the candidate as well as a detailed CV(CV, copies of Master and Bachelor degree certificates including supplements as well as copies of other relevant documents (e.g. publications).

Salary Benefits:

We offer a very challenging fulltime position in an inspiring multidisciplinary and international environment. The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues in which internationalization is an important part of the strategic agenda.
  • The gross monthly salary starts with € 2.325,- in the first year and increases to € 2.972,- in the fourth year of your employment;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • Professional and personal development programs.
Work Hours:

38 hours per week


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