PhD Position in Theoretical Physics

PhD Position in Theoretical Physics

Published Deadline Location
21 Mar 30 Apr Utrecht

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Join our EU project to characterise colloidal gels for new sustainable materials. Make a real impact at the intersection of academic and industrial research!

Job description

Join our EU project to characterise colloidal gels for new sustainable materials. Make a real impact at the intersection of academic and industrial research!

Your job
We seek an enthusiastic, capable PhD candidate who is interested in working on the numerical and theoretical characterization of colloidal gels – suspensions of micron-sized particles that stick together to form open network structures. You will become a part of the CoCoGel Marie Skłodowska-Curie Industrial Doctoral Network, together with 14 other PhD candidates, who will be working throughout Europe on bringing rational design to the structuring of colloidal gels. In this position, you will participate in the collaborative and training activities hosted by the CoCoGel network. You will be employed by Utrecht University, but as a part of the project, you will also be embedded in InProcess-LSP for a period of 18 months. InProcess-LSP is a Scaleup company that develops process analytical technology for the in-line characterisation of dense suspensions using optical coherence tomography (OCT). This technology was used, for example, to size the lipid nanoparticles used in the COVID-19 vaccine.

The core of the project is to push forward the capabilities of the fluid-dynamics solver for colloidal suspensions maintained by the De Graaf group and use this to further understanding of the behaviour of various experimental systems in the CoCoGel network. This solver is based on the Stokesian Dynamics algorithm and builds on the Google JAX framework. Elements that will need to be introduced are size polydispersity and frictional interactions, in addition the algorithm is to be optimised for sparse matrices. Beyond these computational physics aspects, you will study physically how the features of the gel are changed by subjecting the system to external perturbations. During your embedding in InProcess-LSP you will also learn the way in which particle size and features of the gel network may be extracted using OCT and connect this to the results from your simulation. As one of the few dedicated simulators within the CoCoGel consortium, you will be uniquely positioned to interact with many experimental groups and build toward a successful career either in academia or industry.

You will be working within the Institute for Theoretical Physics (ITP) for the duration of the PhD (Utrecht University, location Science Park). This includes a non-negotiable 18-month on-site stay at InProcess-LSP (located in Oss, the Netherlands).

You will work within a small team that specialises in hydrodynamics, statistical physics of soft-condensed-matter systems, and biophysics; presently having diverse research outlooks ranging from colloidal gelation, to tissue dynamics, to bacterial colony growth.

As a PhD candidate, you will primarily focus on the development of numerical methods for the study of colloidal gels, which include hydrodynamic interactions and carrying out the physics-focused research that is based on the numerical methods that you help develop. You are also expected to participate in assisting with classes (10-15% workload). Participation within the ITN training network conforms to EU legislation.


Utrecht University


We are seeking a motivated researcher, who can balance the research requirements expected of a Dutch PhD with the opportunities that are afforded by working in an industry-academia collaboration. You must have a M.Sc. in Physics or in an associated field by the start of the programme. It is important that you are proficient in English and have good communication skills, as the CoCoGel project requires substantial coordination and collaboration. Experience with computational fluid dynamics and good knowledge of classical statistical physics are considered very valuable, the ability to program in C or C++ or a comparable language is needed to make progress in the project. You are expected to actively pursue a research PhD and contribute to the network activities of the CoCoGel ITN.

To qualify for this position, you cannot have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 36 months preceding the recruitment start date.

Conditions of employment

We offer:
  • a position for four years;
  • a full-time gross monthly salary between €2,770 and €3,539 in the case of full-time employment (salary scale P under the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU);
  • 8% holiday pay and 8.3% year-end bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave and flexible terms of employment based on the CAO NU.

In addition to the terms of employment laid down in the CAO NU, Utrecht University has a number of schemes and facilities of its own for employees. This includes schemes facilitating professional development, leave schemes and schemes for sports and cultural activities, as well as discounts on software and other IT products. We also offer access to additional employee benefits through our Terms of Employment Options Model. In this way, we encourage our employees to continue to invest in their growth. For more information, please visit Working at Utrecht University.


Universiteit Utrecht

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Sharing science, shaping tomorrow.

At the Faculty of Science there are six departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing challenges. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

The Institute for Theoretical Physics at Utrecht University is internationally renowned for the fundamental research carried out therein. You will become a member of the De Graaf group, which consists of 3 PhD candidates. InProcess-LSP is a rapidly growing SME developing optical, spectroscopic and rheological methods, as well as instruments for complex fluid characterization, focussed on ‘Process Analytical Technology, (PAT). InProcess-LSP was founded in 2014 by scientists with strong academic and industrial (pharma) backgrounds and has grown to a highly motivated and scientifically skilled team of 20 people with >150 years academic and industrial experience. The customer base includes most of the world’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3755



Princetonplein 5, 3584CC, Utrecht

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