Fully funded PhD position on “Single-molecule optical biosensing”

Fully funded PhD position on “Single-molecule optical biosensing”

Published Deadline Location
26 Jun 3 Aug Eindhoven

Job description

The Molecular Plasmonics group together with the Protein Engineering group at Eindhoven University of Technology have a PhD position in the field of single-molecule plasmon sensing. The project aims to develop a new generation of single-molecule sensors that quantify the concentration of very small, currently indetectable, analyte molecules. The newly developed sensors will be applied in the area of water quality monitoring to detect phosphate and nitrate, essential nutrients but at high concentrations a threat to surface water quality.

About the project

Water contamination affects animal life and threatens the supply of clean drinking water in the future. Monitoring of water quality at water treatment facilities and in surface water will allow the identification of excesses and enable timely response. Currently, there are no sensors to measure low concentrations of micropollutants, e.g. hazardous pharmaceuticals or nutrients such as phosphate and nitrate.

TU/e develops single-molecule optical sensors for monitoring biomolecules in both healthcare and environmental applications. The sensors exploit low-affinity (reversible) single-molecule interactions to monitor fluctuating analyte concentrations over time. In this project, you will develop a novel sensor for very small analytes (phosphate and nitrate) based on analyte-induced conformational dynamics. You will design the assay, develop protocols for the conjugation of the capture probe to plasmonic nanoparticles, and perform single-molecule biosensing experiments using state-of-the-art microscopy approaches.

The project will be supervised by dr. P. Zijlstra (Molecular Plasmonics group) and by Prof. M. Merkx (Protein Engineering group) at TU/e. You will closely collaborate with two other PhD students employed on the project who work on the sensing of pharmaceuticals and the development of an optical prototype sensor. The project is a collaboration with industrial partners, with whom you will interact regularly.

About the group

The Molecular Plasmonics group is at the department of Applied Physics and consists of ~12-15 researchers that work on plasmonic and nanophotonic sensors. We are part of a bigger research cluster (40-50 researchers) focusing on optical sensing. The team is multidisciplinary and hosts physicists, chemists, and biomedical engineers that collaborate in a close-knit team. The lab hosts a range of state-of-the-art single-molecule microscopes in optical laboratories, as well as wet-chemical labs for sample preparation.

The protein engineering group is at the department of Biomedical Engineering and operates at the interface of chemical biology and synthetic biology. Combining protein engineering and DNA nanotechnology, we develop intelligent biomolecular sensors and switches for applications in intracellular imaging, optogenetics, point-of-care diagnostics and antibody-based therapies. An important research theme is to develop generic concepts for developing protein-based sensors. The lab hosts a range of wet-chemical and biolabs, including all facilities required for protein expression, purification, and functionalization.


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)


We welcome applications from candidates with a MSc degree or equivalent in biophysical chemistry or a related field. Experience working with proteins (e.g. expression, functionalization, characterization) and optical microscopy is advantageous.

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. You will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • 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, scale P (min. €2,770 max. €3,539).
  • 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.

Additional information

Do you recognize yourself in this profile and would you like to know more?
Please contact Prof. M. Merkx (m.merkx@tue.nl) or dr. P. Zijlstra (p.zijlstra@tue.nl).

Visit our website for more information about the application process or the conditions of employment. You can also contact HR Services, email (email HRServices.Flux@tue.nl).

Are you inspired and would like to know more about working at TU/e? Please visit our career page.


We invite you to submit a complete application by using the apply button.
The application should include a:
  • A one-page cover letter explaining your motivation and suitability for the position.
  • A detailed Curriculum Vitae.
  • A copy or link to your MSc thesis.
  • Copies of diplomas with course grades.

We look forward to receiving your application and will screen it as soon as possible. The vacancy will remain open until the position is filled.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • V34.7570


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)

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De Rondom 70, 5612 AP, Eindhoven

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Application procedure

Application procedure

Make sure to apply no later than 3 Aug 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).