PhD in Scale-up of Photochemical Processes

PhD in Scale-up of Photochemical Processes

Published Deadline Location
18 Sep 22 Oct Eindhoven

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Job description

For a recently awarded research grant by Netherlands Scientific Organisation (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijke Onderzoek, NWO) we are looking for two PhD candidates to conduct research in the field of photochemical process development. The PhD positions will be located either at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Chemical Reactor Engineering group of Professor John van der Schaaf or in the Photocatalysis and Flow Chemistry group at the University of Amsterdam under the supervision of Professor Timothy Noël. The project will be in collaboration with the companies Signify and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

The Chemical Reactor Engineering group at TU/e focusses on development and characterization of reactors. In this project the work will target optimization of a photo rotor-stator spinning disc reactor for photochemistry to industrial needed quantities. The group has expertise in process intensification, particularly pertaining to chemical reactor technology as well as in-line process analytical tool (e.g. FTIR, NMR) to follow up reaction processes. Prof. dr. ir. John van der Schaaf is a Full Professor at Eindhoven University of Technology. He chairs the Intensified Chemical Reactors group within Sustainable Process Engineering partnership. He is the leading expert on process intensification by high gravity and high shear equipment, such as spinning disc reactors with application in photochemistry, electrochemistry, conventional chemistry, and separation processes. He received the IChemE Award for Core Chemical Reactor Engineering in 2013, Excellence Award in Chemical Reaction Engineering and Process Intensification in 2012 and 2011 (PhD projects) respectively.

The Flow Chemistry group at UvA has expertise in synthetic methodology development of photochemical processes using flow chemistry. They have experience with various flow reactors, varying in wavelength from UV to visible light, including commercial systems and home-made reactors. Prof. dr. ing. Timothy Noël is a Full Professor at the University of Amsterdam and chair of the Flow Chemistry group. He is considered to be one of the world-leading experts in continuous-flow photochemistry and electrochemistry. For his work in the flow chemistry field, Prof. Noël received several international recognitions, most notably, the DECHEMA award (2017), the Hoogewerff Jongerenprijs (2019), the IUPAC-ThalesNano prize for Flow Chemistry (2020, youngest recipient to date), the KNCV Gold Medal (2021) and the ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering Lectureship Award (2022).

Signify is a world leading company in light source development with over 75 years of experience and fundamental knowledge of light sources. In this project Signify is taking the lead on optimizing extremely powerful custom LED modules that are fitted for the photo spinning disc reactor that is employed in this research. The former Philips Lighting branch will aid with the matching of the light source emission maximum to the absorption characteristics of the photocatalyst. This will enable to optimize the energy efficiency of the light sources.

At Janssen Pharmaceuticals we focus on treating, curing and preventing some of the most devastating and complex diseases of our time. We discover and develop innovative medical solutions to address unmet medical needs in oncology, immunology, neuroscience, infectious diseases and vaccines, and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. The Technology & Engineering group (T&E), a subdivision within Small Molecule Pharmaceutical Development (SMPD), is involved in this research program. Within this group there is a focus on designing processes to supply large quantities of new chemical entities for R&D and commercial purposes. API SM develops practical, efficient, safe, and green chemical processes for drug candidates at all stages of development. Secondments within Janssen are possible within this PhD program.

Project description

Photocatalytic transformations have begun to transform the way pharmaceuticals are made, providing unprecedented levels of reactivity and selectivity. However, due to the high cost of photons and the attenuation of light, photocatalysis remains a daunting challenge to carry out on scale. Consequently, advancements in high throughput continuous-flow reactors are urgently needed to assist process chemists in the transition of photocatalytic transformations from laboratory settings into industrial production. In this project, novel rotor-stator spinning disk reactor technology in combination with high intensity and energy-efficient light sources will be designed, developed and applied for the scale up of key photocatalytic steps.

The central tenet of this research program is to develop a scalable, continuous-flow photochemical rotor-stator spinning disk reactor, which provide excellent mass, heat and photon transfer characteristics, and are combined with high intensity light sources. This new reactor design will facilitate the scaling of a diverse set of challenging, multiphase photocatalytic transformations to the reaction scales, required in the pharmaceutical industry.

We are looking for two PhD candidates: one focusing on chemical reactor development with an affinity to chemistry, while the other position is focusing on process chemistry with an affinity to reactor technology.


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)


We are looking for two candidates with a MSc in chemical engineering or a MSc in chemistry with affinity to chemical technology/process technology. The candidate at TU/e will focus more on design and development of the photo rotor-stator spinning disc reactor, while the position at UvA will focus more on photochemical reaction development.

The ideal candidate for the chemical reactor development part at TU/e will have the follow skills, interest and expertise:
  • Experience in chemical reactor engineering, flow processes
  • An affinity with kinetic modelling is preferred
  • Experience in photochemistry, organic chemistry and chemical reactor design is regarded as plus
  • Knowledge about inline analytics (PAT) and analytics in general is appreciated
  • Has interest in API research and development

The ideal candidate for the photochemical reaction development part at UvA will have the follow skills, interest and expertise:
  • Experience in organic chemistry
  • An affinity with chemical engineering is preferred
  • Experience in photochemistry and/or flow chemistry is regarded as plus
  • Knowledge about inline analytics (PAT) and analytics in general is appreciated
  • Has interest in API research and development

The ideal candidate has good scientific skills as well as excellent soft skills related to verbal and written communication. The candidate should be able and interested to work in cross-functional teams.

Conditions of employment

A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we offer you:
  • Full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months.
  • Salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, paid pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. The gross monthly salary starts with € 2.770,- in the first year to € 3.539,- in the fourth year.
  • A year-end bonus of 8.3% and annual vacation pay of 8%.
  • High-quality training programs and other support to grow into a self-aware, autonomous scientific researcher. At TU/e we challenge you to take charge of your own learning process.
  • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children's day care and sports facilities.
  • An allowance for commuting, working from home and internet costs.
  • A Staff Immigration Team and a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) for international candidates.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • V37.6906


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)

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De Rondom 70, 5612 AP, Eindhoven

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