PhD Positions

PhD 3: 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.

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 ambitious candidates 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 (f.mugele @ or Dr. Igor Siretanu (i.siretanu @


Applications are welcome before 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