PhD candidate Flow of biopolymer solutions

Faculty of Science – Institute of Physics

Publication date
23 July 2018
Level of education
Master's degree
Salary indication
€2,266 to €2,897 gross per month
Closing date
15 September 2018
38 hours per week
Vacancy number

The Soft Matter group of The Institute of Physics (IoP) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA)  has a PhD position for the project 'Flow of biopolymer solutions'.

The Soft Matter group comprises over 30 researchers and is active in areas located at the overlap between physics, chemistry and materials science. The research is powered both by a fundamental, knowledge-based drive and an ambition to maximize the transfer and exploitation of our results in industry and society in general. The main research areas include hydrodynamics and rheology, complex fluids (surfactants, colloids, and polymers), nucleation and phase transitions. Since 2004,  six papers in Nature or Science and several major national and international events in our field have been organised by the group. The research in emulsion field has been going on for more than two decades, and encompasses spontaneous emulsification, formulation, rheology, stability and instability, surface rheology, ultralow interfacial tensions, surfactant dynamics, yield stress and Pickering emulsions. In total, more than 200 papers on these subjects were produced by this group, many of which in Phys. Rev. Lett. or similar journals.

Project description

Polymer solutions are often used for modification of texture and flow of consumer products. In complex fluids, in a not fully understood way, parameters such as molecular weight, persistence length, mesh size, and network homogeneity of polymers can modify the sensorial properties of the product. In this PhD project we want to unravel the underlining physics of these effects. The PhD student will therefore explore the shear and extensional rheology of soft matter systems in general, focusing on (bio-)polymers in particular. These undergo spectacular changes with temperature, that cannot be understood from simple polymer theories, but are interesting both from the fundamental point of view of polymer physics, and for their many applications. Extended rheology and tribology studies will be conducted to relate easily measurable rheological properties to more complex flows. We will for instance investigate their ‘slipperiness’ using tribology and try and relate this to the sensory perception of polymer-based (food) products. The microstructure of the systems will be determined with electron and light microscopy techniques.

This project is part of a recently awarded NWO Technology Area project 'Molecular aspects of biopolymers defining food texture perception and oral digestion', which involves two Dutch universities and two industrial partners (Unilever and Anton Paar). The studies performed in Amsterdam will allow us to select certain systems with outstanding properties for a different part of the project carried out at the University of Wageningen. Selected systems will be recommended to study the correlation between the tribology on the one hand and the sensory perception of biopolymers in foodstuffs on the other.

The overall project will apply a multidisciplinary approach, integrating chemistry, physics and sensory science to achieve understanding of how molecular and structural diversity of natural biopolymers impact food product properties. State-of-the-art theories for flow of complex fluids and experimental techniques will be employed to characterize tribology/rheology and relate these to structure, physical-chemical and sensory properties of liquid and weakly structured semi-solid foods. The physical and functional food properties will be linked to structural transitions occurring during food oral processing and texture perception at the University of Wageningen using a variety of sensory studies. We will focus on sensory attributes related to perceptual perception of mouthfeel (thickness, creaminess, sliminess, stickiness, pulpiness).

This project will be conducted in close collaboration with Prof. Krassimir Velikov at Unilever R&D Vlaardingen and Dr. Joerg Laeuger at Anton Paar.


We are looking for a self-motivated, outstanding, and experimental physicist or (physical-) chemist with an interest in soft condensed matter physics and colloids. A proven affinity or experience in using (micro)rheology, light and confocal microscopy, and light scattering experimental techniques for characterisation of dispersion based soft condensed systems speaks strongly in your favour. Since the project is part of a larger collaboration, we seek a candidate with excellent communicative and organizational skills. You meet the requirements for an MSc-degree.

Further information

For informal enquiries about the position, please contact:


The appointment will be on a temporary basis for a period of 4 years (initial appointment will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it can be extended for a total duration of 4 years) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. The PhD candidate is also expected to assist in teaching of undergraduates.

Based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week), the gross monthly salary will range from €2,266 in the first year to €2,897 in the last year. The Collective Employment Agreement for Dutch Universities is applicable. Favourable tax agreements may apply to non-Dutch applicants.

Job application

The UvA is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. We value a spirit of enquiry and endurance, provide the space to keep asking questions and cherish a diverse atmosphere of curiosity and creativity.

Applications may only be submitted by electronic mail by clicking the link below.

To process your application immediately, please quote the vacancy number: 18-450

Applications must include:

  • a curriculum vitae (including details for 2 referees);
  • a list of university courses taken, including grades;
  • a single page maximum statement of motivation and research interests.

Please upload the requested documents as 1 pdf file in the field marked CV in the application form.

Formal closing date: 15 September 2018. #LI-DNP

No agencies please

Published by  University of Amsterdam