Centrum voor Oppervlaktechemie en Katalyse: Karakterisatie en Applicatie Team
KU Leuven
5 dagen geleden

The research group of prof. Johan Martens (COK-kat) within the Department of Microbial and Molecular Systems of the KU Leuven, is looking for a strongly motivated researcher at PhD level to take part in the ERC advanced grant research program WATUSO (Water as a tuneable solvent is an ERC funded project aiming at modulating water solvent properties by confinement).

Water is the sustainable solvent of excellence but its high polarity limits the solubility of non-polar compounds. Confinement of water in hydrophobic pores alters its hydrogen bonding structure and related properties such as dielectric constant and solvation power.

Whether this special state of confined water can be rendered useful in chemical processes is hitherto underexplored. The original idea of this project is to modulate water solvent properties through hydrophobic nano-confinement.

Pressure is applied to force a heterogeneous mixture of poorly soluble molecules and water into hydrophobic nanopores of host material where the lowered polarity of water enhances dissolution.

Decompression after reaction causes expulsion of the solution from the pores and spontaneous demixing of reaction products as water returns to its normal polar state.

Temporary dissolution enhancement during confinement is expected to be advantageous to chemical reaction and molecular storage.

Development of dedicated hydrophobic nanoporous materials and research methodologies providing in situ characterization of confined water, solutes and host material using NMR, EIS, DRS, X-ray and neutron scattering under static and dynamic conditions are key aspects of this project.

Unprecedented control in time and space over H2O solvation properties in a WATUSO system will enable new technologies with major scientific and societal impact.

WATUSO will lead to new insights in water research and deliver new multi-diagnostic characterization tools. WATUSO could revolutionize chemical manufacturing and gas storage and the concept could spill over to many more solvent-based processes.

WATUSO will contribute significantly to a greener, more sustainable chemical industry.

  • You hold a Master degree in physics or can demonstrate relevant experience
  • You are an experienced solid state NMR or dielectric relaxation spectroscopist, with a natural affinity for data analysis and scientific programming
  • You can demonstrate experience in scientific programming (Python, Matlab, etc.) and data analysis
  • Advanced electronic and RF circuit analysis does not hold secrets for you
  • You have experience in modelling circuits with COMSOL or can demonstrate a clear motivation to learn this
  • You are a team player
  • You fluent in english, both orally and written
  • Taking initiative comes natural to you
  • You have a publication list with relevant papers in peer reviewed international journals
  • You can demonstrate thorough knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint
  • Thorough knowledge of Sharepoint workflows is a plus
  • You are used to work with MatLab, Comsol or Igor Pro
  • Preferably Topspin (v 3.x en 4.x) nor DMFIT hold secrets for you
  • You will be part of the WATUSO research team, integrated into the research NMR team of the NMR facility at KU Leuven Chem&Tech.

    You will be responsible for :

  • Development, implementation and optimalisation of DRS and EIS measurements on confined water
  • Implementation and optimalisation of 1D, 2D and nD solid state NMR experiments (CP, MCCP, HETCOR, RFDR, MQMAS, DOSY, HSQC, etc.
  • in corroboration with other NMR postdocs, research support staff and research experts

  • Development of new multidiagnostic DRS / EIS / ssNMR toolboxes for characterisation confined water, its solutes and interaction with the confining host material
  • Development of data analysis / processing software, integrated with Topspin 4, to enable 2 and 3D relaxation ordered spectroscopy, exploiting NMR and dielectric relaxation spectroscopy data
  • Writing of reports and papers, including data analysis, spectral fitting and generation of figures
  • Verification of probe and spectrometer functionality
  • Training of junior researchers
  • For some aspects of the project you will work indiviually, in other cases you will operate as part of a small team.

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