PhD Positions

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

Job Description

At the University of Twente (the Netherlands) within the MESA+ institute for nanotechnology a research program will start early 2018, aimed at understanding physico-chemical aspects of Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) using low-salinity water-flooding in Carbonate reservoirs. The research will be done in consultation with an industrial partner, and involves 5 temporary researchers in Twente.

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.

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.

For a new project entitled: NanoCarbonate: Understanding Microscopic Adsorption and Macroscopic Wetting Properties of Carbonate-Electrolyte-Oil Systems in collaboration with an industrial partner we are looking for a PhD candidate:

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

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, identification of precise adsorption sites of ions (specifically  and ), 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 up to 70°C. High temperature generally 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. First goal of this subproject is to identify the relevant interaction forces and the attraction of polar oil components to the solid surface in ambient oil. A second goal of these experiments is to identify whether thin water layers are present on the solid surface if the oil phase is saturated with water. If present, these films might also play an important role in the adsorption and binding of organic material to the rock. 

Your Profile

For this position we are searching for an ambitious candidate with an MSc or MEng degree in (physical) chemistry or (experimental) physics. Ideally candidate already have practical experience in scanning probe microscopy. 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:!/phd-high-resolution-afm-visualization-of-adsorption-and-desorption-reactions-at-calcite-electrolyte-and-calcite-oil-interfaces/1129974 before March 15, 2018 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.


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 € 2222,- in the first year and increases to € 2840,- 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;
  • Minimum of 29 holidays in case of full-time employment;
  • Professional and personal development programs;