PhD Positions

PhD 1: 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 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 ambitious candidates 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 (f.mugele @ or Dr. Michel Duits (m.h.g.duits @


Applications are welcome December 10, 2017 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.

More information about the project