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    • Wageningen
  • Full time
  • Recruitment


  • Chemistry


  • Phd

Apply by: 2024-06-19

Two PhD students Nanostructured electrode materials for selective ion recovery

Published 2024-05-23


We are looking for two PhD students with a great interest in (nano)materials science and environmental applications.

The PhD positions are part of a larger programme (Mind_Gap) that aims to explore and develop various innovative electrochemical separation technologies for water treatment, ion separation and ion recovery. To that end, advanced energy-storage nanomaterials will be used. The project is funded by the Dutch Research Council and will include three PhD students and two postdoctoral researchers by the end of 2024.

The Mind_Gap programme is fundamental in nature and set to enhance and tune ion selectivity, aiming to achieve ion recovery. Recently we hired a PhD student who will work on intercalation materials and we now look for candidates who will work on organic frameworks (PhD1) and layered materials (PhD2). From these selected materials electrodes will be made and characterized with various techniques in terms of their morphology, chemical composition, crystallinity and redox properties.
Next, their separation performance when applied in electrochemical deionization will be studied. This includes the optimization of operation parameters such as applied current, cell voltage, ion concentration and pH. Membranes will be used to further enhance the selectivity. Improvement of the electrode stability and upscaling the ion separation process are two challenges that will be addressed. Key research questions are: Which ions can be targeted with the electrodes made from new building blocks? Can we understand the underlying mechanisms that contribute to selectivity? What is the electrochemical stability of the new electrodes, and how to improve it? What are the upscaling limitations/possibilities?
The work will be performed in close collaboration with Wetsus and several industrial partners.

Key activities for both PhD students include:

  • prepare and characterize nanomaterials;
  • thoroughly study the potential of these materials as electrode materials in electrochemical deionization technologies;
  • thoroughly study the physical and (electro)chemical principles that result in (selective) electrosorption of ions of interest;
  • teach chemistry classes;
  • publish research results in peer-reviewed journals and write a doctoral thesis.

You will work here
The research is embedded within the group Advanced Interfaces & Materials of Prof. Louis de Smet, part of the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry and will be performed in close collaboration with Associate Professor Dr Jouke Dykstra.


You have an MSc in Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science, Environmental Technology or related discipline. Experience with the electrochemical characterization of materials is required and experience with water treatment processes and/or separation technologies are in asset.

You also have:

  • strong analytical and problem-solving abilities;
  • hands-on experience with the synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials;
  • the ability to perform independent lab work in a self-motivated manner;
  • an affinity for the collaborative nature of this project;
  • a strong drive to excel, and your greatest strengths lie in creativity, persistence and curiosity.

For this position your command of the English language, written and oral, is expected to be at C1. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found here.


Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.

The gross salary for the first year is € 2.770 - per month rising to € 3.539,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “ Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 19th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.

Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling. For instance under the "30% rule", certain categories of international staff can receive tax exemption on approximately 30% of their gross salary.


Wageningen University & Research

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,600 employees (6,700 fte) and 13,100 students and over 150,000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


For more information about this position, please contact Professor Louis de Smet, telephone: +31 (0)317481268 / 82361 or by e-mail: louis.desmet@wur.nl.

For more information about the procedure, please contact Rutger Voorrips, corporate recruiter, by e-mail: rutger.voorrips@wur.nl.

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.

Please upload a cover letter (max 1 page) outlining your motivation and suitability for the project, and your CV (max 2 pages) including names and contact details of two potential references. Please indicate with your apply for PhD1 or PhD 2 and do not upload any other documents.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including Wednesday 19 June 2024. We aim to schedule the first job interviews shortly after the closing date.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.