PhD position: Multivalent interactions for super-selective colloids and self-organizing protein networks

Faculty/department Applied Sciences
Level Master degree
Maximum employment 38 hours per week (1 FTE)
Duration of contract 4 years

This is project is part of the Casimir Research School and a collaboration between the Bionanoscience Department at TU Delft and Faculty of Science at Leiden University:

Casimir Research School
You will automatically be enrolled into the Casimir Research School: This research school provides a network for all researchers working at the Leiden Institute of Physics and the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience in Delft. Throughout the year, Casimir offers high-quality graduate level classes and meetings on many research related topics (Spring School, career events etc.).

A new Department of Bionanoscience has been established at TU Delft, dedicated to research at the interface between nanoscience, synthetic biology, and cell biology. It studies single cells in all their complexity down to the molecular level, from both fundamental scientific and application points of view. The new department operates as part of the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the Faculty of Applied Sciences and aims at a leading international position.

The Faculty of Science teaches more than 2,600 students in the context of 8 bachelor’s and 11 master’s programmes. Working at the Faculty of Science means being part of an exciting, dynamic scientific environment, which sets high standards for its students, staff and support staff alike. The Faculty is known for its friendly and team-spirited atmosphere, which promotes mutual exchange of knowledge. For more information, see

Job description      
The prospect of building complex supramolecular assemblies from building blocks with appropriately designed interactions has spurred scientific efforts: both to create smart materials with unprecedented properties and to build a self-organising synthetic cell. Despite significant progress in the fabrication (colloids) or purification (proteins) of the building blocks and the realization of programmable interactions using DNA linkers, the desired control over their self-assembly/self-organisation remains limited. One key challenge is to achieve controllable interaction specificity and strength, while maintaining structural reconfigurability and bond reversibility. Biological systems achieve this through multivalent interactions: instead of relying on a single, strongly binding unit, they exploit multiple weakly binding ligands on one entity with multiple receptors on another. In this project you will systematically investigate the physics of multivalent interactions on a supra-molecular length scale using DNA linkers.

As a next step you will put your insights to a use and develop (1) super-selective colloidal particles that are able to discriminate between high and low surface coverage of receptors and are of high potential for selective targeting, e.g. for drug delivery and nano-medicine, and (2) DNA linker sets to create highly controllable binding sites on proteins for functional self-organising networks.

This a collaborative project between the Labs of dr. ir Liedewij Laan (protein networks, TU Delft) and dr. Daniela Kraft (Colloids, Leiden University). Visit our websites for more information:,

Applicants should have a Master's degree in chemistry, physics, or a related field, and enthusiasm for working at the interface of biology, chemistry and physics. The position will be for a fixed term of four years and is expected to result in a PhD. Good communication skills in English are required.

Conditions of employment

TU Delft offers an attractive benefits package, including a flexible work week, free high-speed Internet access from home (with a contract of two years or longer), and the option of assembling a customised compensation and benefits package. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. Delft University of Technology strives to increase the number of women in higher academic positions; women are therefore especially encouraged to apply.

As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the Casimir Research School. The Casimir Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

Information and application

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. ir. Liedewij Laan, phone: +31 (0)15-2782856 , e-mail: or Dr. Daniela Kraft , phone:+31 (0)71 527 1873 , e-mail: To apply, please e-mail a detailed CV, a letter of application and two references by 15 October to Dr. Laan and Dr. Kraft. The position is available immediately, with latest starting date January 2018. The selection procedure will continue until the position is filled.

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