PD Positions

PostDoc vacancy: Adhesion and chemical composition mapping on heterogeneous rock surfaces using confocal Raman and Atomic Force Microscopy

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 this subproject is to provide a correlation between the chemical composition of solid substrates and the adhesion of oil on these substrates. Types of substrates to investigate are synthetic carbonate crystallites precipitated on (preferentially) silica surfaces as well as natural rock surfaces. The substrates will first be imaged using confocal Raman microscopy to identify their local chemical composition. Subsequently, AFM adhesion force measurements will be carried out on the same location(s) using peak force tapping or a related fast force measurement mode in a combined AFM-Raman measurement setup available within the MESA+ Bionanolab. As in the other subprojects, the key question is to identify how the response of the surface changes as a function of the composition of the aqueous electrolyte and to what extent synthetic and natural surfaces display the same or different response.

 In the first phase, measurements will be carried out using conventional hydrophilic AFM tips made of oxidized silicon. In the second phase, the tips shall be modified to represent an actual oil drop. Two approaches shall be explored to realize this type of tip. First, we will follow the conventional manner of hydrophobizing the intrinsically hydrophilic tips using hydrophobic agents such as CH3-terminated alkylsilanes or thiols (in case of Au-coated AFM tips). The more challenging but also more rewarding second approach is to actually immobilize a small drop of (crude) oil on the AFM tip. we will address this problem by using AFM tips that are specifically modified for fluid injection. So-called fluidFM tips contain microchannels incorporated within the AFM cantilever that allow to aspire and eject fluid from the back side. Such measurements would constitute the first direct measurements of oil-rock interactions with a lateral resolution in the sub-micrometer range. These experiments will be carried out primarily at room temperature.

Your Profile

For this position we are searching for ambitious candidates with a PhD degree in (physical) chemistry or (experimental) physics. Ideally candidates already have practical experience in scanning probe microscopy and/or Raman 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: www.utwente.nl/tnw/pcf or obtained by contacting Prof. Frieder Mugele (f.mugele @ utwente.nl) or Dr. Igor Siretanu (i.siretanu @ utwente.nl).


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