PhD: Super-Selective Colloids & Self-Organising Protein Networks

Department/faculty: Applied Sciences
Level: Master degree
Working hours: 38 hours per week
Contract: 4 years
Salary: €2222 to €2840

Applied Sciences

The Faculty of Applied Sciences is the largest faculty of TU Delft, with around 550 scientists, a support staff of 250 and 1,800 students. The faculty conducts fundamental, application-oriented research and offers scientific education at the bachelor, master and doctoral levels. The faculty is active in the fields of Life and Health Science & Technology, Nanoscience, Chemical Engineering, Radiation Science & Technology, and Applied Physics.

This is project is part of the Casimir Research School and a collaboration between the Bionanoscience Department at the TU Delft and the Faculty of Science at Leiden University.
You will be enrolled in the Casimir Research School: This research school provides a network for all researchers working at the Leiden Institute of Physics and the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience in Delft. Throughout the year, Casimir offers high-quality graduate-level classes and meetings on many research-related topics (Spring School, career events, etc.).

A new Department of Bionanoscience has been established at the TU Delft, dedicated to research at the interface between nanoscience, synthetic biology, and cell biology. It studies single cells in all their complexity down to the molecular level, from both fundamental scientific and application points of view. The new department operates as part of the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the Faculty of Applied.

The Leiden Faculty of Science teaches more than 2,600 students. Working at the Faculty of Science means being part of an exciting, dynamic scientific environment, which sets high standards for its students, staff, and support staff alike. The Faculty is known for its friendly and team-spirited atmosphere, which promotes mutual exchange of knowledge.

Job description

The prospect of building complex supramolecular assemblies from building blocks with appropriately designed interactions has spurred scientific efforts both to create smart materials with unprecedented properties and to build a self-organising synthetic cell. Despite significant progress in the fabrication (colloids) or purification (proteins) of the building blocks and the realisation of programmable interactions using DNA linkers, the desired control over their self-assembly/self-organisation remains limited. One key challenge is to achieve controllable interaction specificity and strength, while maintaining structural reconfigurability and bond reversibility. Biological systems achieve this through multivalent interactions: instead of relying on a single, strongly binding unit, they exploit multiple weakly binding ligands on one entity with multiple receptors on another. In this project you will systematically investigate the physics of multivalent interactions on a supra-molecular length scale using DNA linkers.
As a next step you will put your insights to use and develop (1) super-selective colloidal particles that are able to discriminate between high and low surface coverage of receptors and are of high potential for selective targeting, e.g. for drug delivery and nano-medicine, and (2) DNA linker sets to create highly controllable binding sites on proteins for functional self-organising networks.
This a collaborative project between the Labs of Dr. Liedewij Laan (protein networks, TU Delft) and Dr. Daniela Kraft (Colloids, Leiden University).


Applicants should have a Master's degree in chemistry, physics, or a related field, and enthusiasm for working at the interface of biology, chemistry and physics. The position will be for a fixed term of four years and is expected to result in a PhD. Good communication skills in English are required.

Conditions of employment

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers child care and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.
As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit for more information.

Information and application

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Liedewij Laan, phone: +31 (0)15-2782856, e-mail: To apply, please e-mail a detailed CV and names of three references along with a letter of application by 15 October 2017 to Dr. Laan,
When applying for this position, please refer to vacancy number TNWBN17-042.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.


Applied Sciences
Master degree
Working hours
4 years
€2222 to €2840

Closing date
Oct. 15, 2017
Vacancy nr.


For more information about this job, please contact Liedewij Laan, Assistant Professor.

T +31 (0)15-2782856

For more information about the application procedure, please contact Liedewij Laan/Bionanoscience.