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PhD: Technische Universität Berlin in Germany DL: 11 June 2012

The IGRTG 1524, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and associated with Technische Universität Berlin, Germany, offers

8 Doctoral Scholarships

for research projects concerned with fundamental properties of self-assembled nanostructures forming at surfaces and interfaces. Research focuses on both characterization of such nanostructures and principles driving their formation. The program seeks to integrate Physical Chemistry and Physics in experimental and theoretical soft-matter and interface research:

A2.2a – R. von Klitzing: Ordering of inorganic particles within polymer brushes grafted from planar surfaces. The project addresses hybrid materials consisting of particles in polymer matrices. The 2D and 3D ordering of particles will be mainly studied in polymer brushes.

B3.2a – M. Ballauff: Protein assembly on polymeric nanoparticles. In this project we plan to study the interaction of proteins with well-defined spherical polyelectrolyte brushes and charged core-shell microgels. Work planned for this thesis will include systematic studies of this process by scattering methods (small-angle x-ray and neutron scattering) as well as theoretical modeling of the results obtained by these methods.

C1.4a – A. Grafmüller: Modelling size dependent polysaccharide-nanoparticle assembly. The project aims at elucidating how the interplay of surface interactions and surface curvature with polymer (polysaccharide) properties such as the bending rigidity as well as intra- and inter-molecular interactions controls the self-assembly process. To understand how detailed molecular interactions affect the properties of the system on the mesoscopic much larger scale of these compounds, a multi-scale simulation approach is to be developed and applied to explain and predict the system properties under various conditions.

C2.1a – R. Lipowsky: Adhesion and engulfment by multi-component membranes. The objective of this theoretical project is to develop and study simplified model systems for the process of phagocytosis, in which ‘particles’ and damaged cells are engulfed by cells of the immune system. This process starts with membrane adhesion followed by molecular recognition and leads either to retraction or engulfment of the ‘particles’.

C2.2a – R. Dimova: Adhesion-induced domain formation in multicomponent membranes. Multicomponent lipid membranes can exhibit phase separation at certain temperature and composition. Here, as model membrane we will consider giant unilamellar vesicles. The project will investigate processes of phase separation induced by the adhesion of the vesicles to a substrate leading to local compositional changes in the membrane.

C2.3a – P. Hildebrandt: Mapping the electric field in protein-membrane interfaces. In this project vibrational spectroscopies will be employed to determine the electric field distribution at protein-membrane interfaces. Expertise in spectroscopy or physical chemistry of biological systems is desired but not a prerequisite.

C3.1a – S. Klapp: Surface-assisted self-assembly of artificial microswimmers. The project concerns the structure formation and dynamics of driven systems of complex nanoparticles in external electric fields. These issues shall be investigated by computer simulations and other methods from classical statistical physics in close collaboration with experimental groups.

C3.2a – H. Stark: Kinetics of phase ordering for switchable moleculesUsing Monte-Carlo and Brownian dynamics simulations, the project aims at investigating the phase ordering kinetics of light-switchable molecules. Good knowledge in the statistical mechanics of soft matter and in numerical simulations are necessary.

For more detailed information visit the website:

The IGRTG 1524 is run by a joint consortium of two Berlin universities: Technische Unversität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces and four US universities: North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina, Duke University, and University of Pennsylvania.

Commitment: The IGRTG 1524 distinguishes itself through joint teaching and supervision. Each Ph.D. will be supervised by a German and a US scientist. The core program consists of interdisciplinary lectures and seminars, and includes a mandatory 6-month research & study period in one of the collaborating US universities.

Terms of Grant: Scholarships are awarded for a maximum period of up to 3 years, starting individually during 2012. Doctoral fellows will receive a stipend of € 1.303 per month, incl. material cost allowance. Additional childcare allowance will be granted if applicable.

Application: Applicants are invited to submit a cover letter with all project reference numbers (see above) the applicant is interested in, CV, and transcript of records. Successful applicants hold a master/diploma degree with a strong background in theoretical/experimental physics/physical chemistry in a relevant area of soft-matter science. Excellent command of the English language, mobility, and a strong interest in fundamental research are indispensable prerequisites.

The IGRTG aims at increasing the proportion of female staff and is proactive in inviting women to apply for fellowships. In cases of equal qualification, females will be given preference. This policy applies also to disabled persons.

Deadline: The deadline for applications is June 11, 2012.

Applications should be addressed to:

Dr. D. Fliegner, Technische Universität Berlin, Sekr. TC 7, Institut für Chemie (IGRTG 1524), Strasse des 17. Juni 124, D–10623 Berlin, Germany. Applications by e-mail are highly welcome: