Postdoctoral position in Nanoparticles and Liquid Crystals (1.0 FTE)

Hours per week: 
38 to 40
Faculty of Science
Department of Physics, Soft Condensed Matter & Biophysics
Application deadline: 

Job description

The focus of this postdoctoral position is investigating how the self-assembly of nanoparticles at liquid crystal surfaces depends on the particle shape and size. The research project will be carried out in the team of dr. Lisa Tran, as part of the Soft Condensed Matter & Biophysics research group at the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science in the physics department at Utrecht University.

Controlling the organization of nanoparticles has important implications for tuning material characteristics, impacting electronic and optical properties. Small molecule liquid crystals have been recently employed to assemble nanoparticles because of the ability of liquid crystals to form complex patterns . Yet, the exact interactions between nanoparticles and liquid crystal molecules remain unclear at the submicron scale – the scale where geometry and chemistry inform one another. The project aims to probe this length scale by investigating particle assembly while varying particle chemistry and system geometry.

The research project will involve particle synthesis and modification, microfluidics, and high-resolution microscopy. Simulations of liquid crystals are also employed to visualize liquid crystal structures.

Tran, L., Kim, H. N., Li, N., Yang, S., Stebe, K. J., Kamien, R. D., & Haase, M. F. (2018). Shaping nanoparticle fingerprints at the interface of cholesteric droplets. Science Advances, 4(10), eaat8597.

Tran, L., & Bishop, K. J. (2020). Swelling Cholesteric Liquid Crystal Shells to Direct the Assembly of Particles at the Interface. ACS nano, 14(5), 5459-5467.


We are looking for a driven and collaborative student who

  • holds a PhD in physics, material science, or a related field;
  • has previous experience with liquid crystals and/or nanoparticle assembly;
  • is enthusiastic about working within a collaborative, multidisciplinary team;
  • has excellent English communication skills (written and spoken);
  • a background in soft condensed matter physics with prior experience in liquid crystals, optical microscopy, particle synthesis, and/or microfluidics is a plus.

We care about diversity and encourage the application of those that are underrepresented in the sciences.


  • a full-time position for 2 years;
  • access to a network of collaborative researchers within the Debye Institute;
  • a full-time gross salary ranging between €2,790 and €4,402 in scale 10;
  • benefits including 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the CAO for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment yourself via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow.

More information about working at the Faculty of Science can be found here.

About the organisation

Utrecht University’s Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science brings together six research groups from the departments of Chemistry and Physics. The central research theme is 'Nanomaterials for Sustainability', supported by three strong, interconnected research pillars: catalysis, colloids and nanophotonics.

At the Faculty of Science there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes which work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

Utrecht University is a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world’s happiest cities. We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our familiar atmosphere and the can-do mentality of our people. This lively and inspiring academic environment attracts professors, researchers and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the University and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international community and wonderfully diverse.

Additional information

If you have any questions that you’d like us to answer, please contact Dr. Lisa Tran via

Do you have a question about the application procedure? Please send an email to


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. If you have the expertise and the experience to excel in this role, then simply respond via the “Apply now” button!

Please enclose:

  • your letter of motivation detailing motivation, research experience, and research interests;
  • your detailed curriculum vitae, including a list of publications;
  • copies of your transcripts/certificates;
  • the names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of at least two references.

If this specific opportunity isn’t for you, but you know someone else who may be interested, please forward the link to them.

Please note: Due to the current situation regarding the Corona virus (COVID-19) the process of selection and interviews is subject to change. Initial interviews will most likely be conducted online.

Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

The application deadline is 27 November 2020.