PhD Positions

PhD: Stability and wettability of calcium carbonates by complex brines and oil

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:

"Stability and wettability of calcium carbonates by complex brines and oil"

The goal of the PhD project advertised here, is to get a better understanding of the role of aqueous ions and oil-dissolved polar organic molecules on the wetting of calcite surfaces. One of the challenges to be addressed, is that ions can alter the substrate surface in different ways: dissolution and recrystallization, ad/desorption of ions, and desorption of organic compounds (in case of natural rock). Also adsorption at the oil/water interface can contribute to changes in contact angle. To dissect these contributions, well-defined experiments addressing the separate as well as the combined aspects are needed. This includes microscopy studies into the evolution of crystal morphology, leading also to a demarcation of the ‘chemical window’ in which the substrate remains stable. Contact angle and pendant drop measurements should reveal the (adsorption, desorption and self-assembly) processes at the different interfaces. Synthetic as well as natural calcium carbonates will be used and different oil compositions will be explored. Exposure of substrates to different brine compositions will be assisted by microfluidics. In the end, the combination of experiments should lead to a control over the contact angle via the composition of the brine.

Your Profile

For this position we are searching for an ambitious candidate with an MSc or MEng degree in (physical or crystal) chemistry or (experimental) physics. Existing knowledge on crystal growth, adsorption phenomena or wetting will be considered as an advantage. Considering the strongly collaborative nature of the project, we are looking for a team player with good communication skills. Further information can be found on the website: or by contacting Prof. Frieder Mugele (, Dr. Igor Siretanu ( or Dr. Michel Duits (m.h.g.duits @


Applications are welcome via the link:!/phd-stability-and-wettability-of-calcium-carbonates-by-complex-brines-and-oil/1129949 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;