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PhD opening in single-molecule conducting polymer experiments

PhD position: Single-Polymer Detection

Project description

Biosensors that rely solely on electrical detection are highly desirable for integration with electronics on the same chip, enabling new assays based on ‘digital’ detection. Instead of measuring the average response to a large number of molecules, digital sensors aim to detect individual molecular interactions as discrete, countable events at large numbers of parallel detectors, thus achieving extreme sensitivities. An important bottleneck, however, has been the lack of a suitable method for easily converting single-entity (bio)chemical information directly into electrical signals. Here we aim to tackle this challenge by utilizing inherently conductive polymers as ‘electrical markers’. Solvated conducting polymers adopt a random-coil configuration that can bridge the gap between electrodes separated by a small (~10 nm) distance, effectively acting as nanoscale circuit breakers. When coupled to a recognition element such as a nucleic acid or an antibody, they can report on the making and breaking of individual chemical binding events. This multidisciplinary project draws on our group’s established expertise in microfabricating electrochemical nanofluidic devices and measuring minute electrical currents. It includes a strong conceptual, exploratory component ranging from the optimal choice of polymer materials to learning how to deal with the stochastic signals generated by these sensors.


You will work in the Bioelectronics group at the University of Twente (UT) in the Netherlands ( We are an internationally oriented group conducting both fundamental research and exploring new applications at the interface between physics, electrochemistry and nanoscience. Ongoing research lines include high-frequency detection in liquid at high-frequency nanoelectrode arrays, conducting polymers as ‘electrical labels’ in biosensors, electrochemical nanofluidics and single-molecule strategies for trace-level liquid biopsies. The project is further embedded in SENTINEL, a Europe-wide training network in single-entity nanoelectrochemistry, and will include spending significant time at industrial and academic partner organizations.

Your profile

You have a background in physics, physical chemistry or a closely related discipline. You have strong communication skills, including fluency in written and spoken English. You are enthusiastic, highly motivated to do a PhD and can function in a broader team. While our primary focus is on experiments, interests and aptitudes in theory are also desirable.

Our offer

We want you to play a key role in an ambitious project in an inspiring and stimulating international work environment.

  • We provide excellent mentorship and a modern research environment with world-class research facilities, including a state-of-the-art cleanroom. You will have an employment contract for the duration of 4 years (3 years within SENTINEL plus one additional year) and can participate in all employee benefits the UT offers. You will be embedded in a dynamic research group with colleagues working on related topics. Additionally, the UT is a green campus with excellent facilities and resources for professional and personal development. You will follow a high-quality personalized educational program, being trained within SENTINEL by several of Europe’s most distinguished nanoelectrochemists. The research will result in a PhD thesis at the end of the employment period. We strive for diversity and fairness in hiring.


For more information about the position, potential applicants are encouraged to contact Prof. Serge G. Lemay ( directly.

The application process for SENTINEL positions is conducted centrally. Instructions on how to apply, as well as a detailed list of requirements, can be found on the EURAXESS website ( Review of candidates will begin on 28 February 2019 and will continue until the vacancy has been filled.