PhD Candidate: Polymerization and structure – function of biobased engineering plastics for advanced electronic systems

PhD Candidate: Polymerization and structure – function of biobased engineering plastics for advanced electronic systems

Published Deadline Location
3 Mar 21 Mar Geleen

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You are a highly motivated researcher with a MSc degree in polymer science and/or chemistry, holding specific skills in polymer synthesis and physico-chemical characterization.

Job description

The respective project is part of the Dutch Polymer Institute (DPI) Performance Polymers cluster and named B-CRYSP, derived from the project title: Biobased crystal polarization and semi-aromaticity for high polymer dielectrics.

To reduce carbon emissions, electrification innovations are paralleled by a sustainable selection of alternative, biobased resources. To meet existing expectations of product designers in performance, substitution of fossil-based resources is not straightforward. Biobased plastics are regularly considered inferior. Based on an in-depth understanding on the translation of properties across multiple length-scales down to molecular design, we demonstrate the opposite. We aim to use the unique nature of selected biobased building blocks introducing crystal polarity for increased electrical performance and safety of plastics in advanced and sustainable electronic systems. What chemical pathways to follow, and how to design the crystalline phase?  

It will be your task to elucidate the effect of crystal polarization next to the fundamental modes of polarizability on the electrical properties of the polycondensates, specifically polyamides, synthesized. Careful selection of monomers and polymerization strategies provide control over the design of thermal relaxations that are trivial to the performance in electronic devices. The methodological approach in molecular design matches the supervisors’ joint research lines to position biobased, potentially circular, polymeric materials among the existing construction materials. The route is to transfer unique chemical functionality of biomolecules across multiple length-scales to enhanced and new materials functions.

As a PhD student you will be appointed at the Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials of Maastricht University, which is part of the Faculty of Science and Engineering. You will work at the interface of the polymer chemistry group of Associate Professor Katrien Bernaerts and the Macromolecular Physics and Technology group of Associate Professor Jules Harings. The principle investigators are tied in a long-lasting and effective collaboration. The primary location of the research is at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen, the Netherlands.


Maastricht University (UM)


The PhD student:

  • holds a MSc degree in Polymer Science, Chemistry, or Chemical Engineering or related fields;
  • has specific skills in polymer synthesis and physico-chemical characterization. Experience with polycondensation is a pro;
  • has a strong interest to investigate structure-property relationships of the synthesized polymers for electronic devices;
  • aims at helping to create ready-to-market products from the insights gained during the PhD study – in balance with profound scientific publishing in peer review journals;
  • likes to interact with academic and industrial partners and embeds their input (e.g. during bi-annual progress meetings) into his/her scientific research;
  • is result driven, inventive, creative, counts with potential impact, works ‘accountable’ and takes ownership;
  • masters scientific English for speaking, reading, and writing. Knowledge of Dutch is not required.

Conditions of employment

  • We offer a rewarding career at a young university in the heart of Europe, with a distinctly global perspective and a strong focus on innovative research and education;
  • The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO), supplemented with local UM provisions. For more information on terms of employment, please visit our website > Support > UM employees;
  • We offer a 4-year full-time appointment as a PhD Candidate. The first year will be a probation period; after a positive assessment, the position will be extended for another 3 years.  Start date is foreseen as soon as possible;
  • Remuneration will be according to standard salary levels for Ph.D. students starting with a salary of €2.541,- with a yearly growth to €3.247,- gross a month, based on a full-time appointment (38 hours/week);
  • On top of this, there is an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance;
    We offer an attractive package of fringe benefits such as a reduction on collective health insurance, substantial leave arrangements, an optional model for designing a personalized benefits package, sports facilities that staff may use at a modest charge, and application for attractive fiscal arrangements for employees from abroad;
  • We provide a stimulating, collaborative and interdisciplinary work environment with excellent opportunities for professional and personal development;
  • Maastricht University has an excellent international reputation, and Maastricht itself is a beautiful, open-minded city located in the center of Western Europe.


Maastricht University

Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. Maastricht University has around 22,000 students and about 5,000 employees. Reflecting the university's strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.


Faculty of Science and Engineering

The Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) is home to several outstanding departments and institutions covering education and research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as well as the liberal arts and sciences.


The Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials (AMIBM) is a department of the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) at Maastricht University, located on the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen. AMIBM is a European cross-border research institute established by Maastricht University and RWTH Aachen University (Germany), focusing on developing advanced biobased materials. The mission of AMIBM is “ground-breaking conversion of biomass to biobased materials and into product applications”. AMIBM promotes excellent multidisciplinary research in the field of biobased materials, by training Ph.D. students with the multiple skills needed to be future leaders in the field, and creating the research breakthroughs that will enable the utilization of sustainable and renewable materials for advanced materials applications. The multidisciplinary team draws together scientists with expertise in molecular and applied biotechnology, organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, polymer physics, polymer engineering, biomedical materials, and sustainability assessment.
AMIBM is embedded in a lively, entrepreneurial, and creative working environment at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen (the Netherlands), one of the largest chemical and materials communities in Europe.

More information:

Research group Sustainability of Chemicals and Materials.

  • The mission of the research team is to provide suitable instruments and sustainability impact assessments to guide the transition from a fossil-based and linear economy to a biobased and circular economy.
  • We are a young and growing international team of sustainability experts focusing on environmental impact assessment in connection with economic and social impacts.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 30.4—38 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • AT2023.109


Maastricht University (UM)

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Urmonderbaan 22, 6167 RD, Geleen

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