PhD positions in Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, Netherlands

Designation/Position- PhD positions

The Faculty of Science and the Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, Netherlands are looking for a PhD Candidate, Functionalized two-dimensional nanoporous membranes for solar to fuel devices.

About- Leiden University is ranked in the top 70 of leading Universities worldwide and belongs to the highest ranked European Universities. Leiden University is the oldest university in the Netherlands, offering education to about 15,000 students in a wide range of studies.
The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are committed to expand fundamental knowledge by curiosity and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.
The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organized in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programs. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 1,300 staff and almost 4,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

The chemistry and life science research in the Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC) is organized around two major research areas: ‘Chemical Biology’ and ‘Energy & Sustainability’. The institute’s research themes illustrate the central position of chemistry between biology, medicine and physics. The various research topics carried out within these themes are ideal for executing interdisciplinary research.

Location- Leiden University, Netherlands

Research/Job Area- Chemistry, Physics, Engineering or equivalent

Project Title- Functionalized two-dimensional nanoporous membranes for solar to fuel devices


  • Master’s degree in Chemistry, Physics, Engineering or equivalent with excellent grades;
  • Good to excellent proficiency in English;
  • The candidate must have a keen interest in carrying research at the frontier of chemistry and physics in a multidisciplinary environment and should be able to work independently;
  • The candidate should be strongly interested to expand their horizon beyond the specific field of their major and should have demonstrated an excellent educational track record;
  • Position #I: For the synthesis/preparation part of the project, the candidate should have an outstanding knowledge of organic chemistry and organic synthesis skills (experience with the synthesis of large polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – hexabenzocoronene at least – constitutes a large asset). Ideally the candidate will also have a sound knowledge in physical chemistry and/or be keen on studying ion/mass transport through the membranes and/or electrochemistry (i.e., fuel cells);
  • Position #II: For the computational part of the project, the candidate should have strong computational chemistry and/or molecular modeling background. Experience in molecular dynamics simulations and density functional theory calculations is a plus;
  • The PhD research needs to start before December 2018.

Job/Position Description- The two PhD positions are available immediately at the Leiden Institute of Chemistry in the group of Dr. Gregory Schneider and the group of Professor Huub de Groot, Dr. Francesco Buda and Dr. Agur Sevink. The purpose of this project is to design a functionalized nanoporous polyaromatic monolayer membrane (2D-NPA), based on ubiquitous elements (mainly carbon and nitrogen), for important widespread applications such as membrane filters, catalysis, fuel cells and integration into artificial photosynthesis devices. The research will focus on two main aspects:

  1. Functionalized polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) synthesis and bottom-up preparation of functionalized porous monolayer membrane with known catalysts for multi electron water oxidation. The properties of the 2D-NPA membrane will be tailored for the target applications by modifying the chemical structure of the PAHs and membrane preparation conditions. Selected catalyst motifs will be added to the membrane. Initial characterization will be performed with cyclic voltammetry.
  2. Evaluation of membrane selectivity and ion-flux as a function of membrane design and operating conditions (ion concentration/gradients), as well as membrane stability. NMR studies will be performed in operando or on model compounds with catalysts to determine the chemical environment for operation as a redox mediator in multi-electron catalysis for artificial photosynthesis. This will be followed by in silico characterization of the reaction coordinate of the functionalized 2D-NPA for water oxidation catalysis and determine how the performance can be optimized with respect to turnover frequency in mild solvent environments. Modern computational techniques (mainly ab-initio and classical molecular dynamics) will be used to fundamentally study the catalytic activity and permeability/stability of the 2D membrane.

Moreover, the performance of 2D-NPA in a device will be tested by including this new component in a setup for solar to fuel conversion that is currently under development within a collaboration with an SME, Hydron Energy, which is financed from different sources.
The project will benefit from highly multidisciplinary collaborations, with close links to experts in many different relevant areas, including organic synthesis, ion/mass transport through 2D membranes, (reverse) osmosis, nanofabrication, electron microscopy, material growth, surface chemistry, supramolecular chemistry, quantum chemistry, quantum physics, electrical engineering, surface analysis, probe microscopies, but also industries.

How to Apply-

To apply for vacancy #I, please send an email to the secretary of the Supramolecular and Biomaterials Chemistry group, Mrs. Michelle van der Haar at [email protected].

To apply for vacancy #II, please send an email to the secretary of the Biophysical Organic Chemistry group, Mrs. Liesbeth van der Velden at [email protected].

Please ensure that you join to your application the vacancy number and the following additional documents:

  • A cover letter explaining why you are interested in the position/research topic;
  • An updated CV;
  • The letters of recommendation by 1 or 2 former supervisors;
  • The transcripts of your MSc studies.

For Contact- Enquiries can be made to:
I) PhD position #I, synthesis:  Grégory Schneider;
II) PhD position #II, computational chemistry: Francesco Buda.

If you have any questions about the procedure, please contact secretary Mrs. Michelle van der Haar.

Last Date for Apply 22 July 2018

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