PhD scholarship in Miniaturized Biophotovoltaic Cells

torsdag 14 nov 19

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Frist 6. december 2019
Du kan søge om jobbet ved DTU Nanolab ved at udfylde den efterfølgende ansøgningsformular.

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We are looking for a talented PhD candidate to join the project ‘Pyrolytic Hierarchical Organic Electrodes for sustaiNable Electrochemical Energy Systems (PHOENEEX)’, which is funded by an European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant.

The overall vision of PHOENEEX is to develop a miniaturised biobattery. For this purpose, we will investigate novel approaches for the fabrication of 3D carbon microelectrodes (3DCMEs) with highly tailored material properties, large surface area and hierarchical architecture. We will apply the 3DCMEs to i) considerably improve the efficiency of energy harvesting in microbial fuel cells and ii) enhance temporal storage of the harvested energy in microsupercapacitors. In this context, you will work in close collaboration with several researchers in an interdisciplinary team.

We are based at DTU Nanolab, where we conduct cross-disciplinary research and apply micro- and nanotechnology to a wide range of scientific disciplines and applications. The Biomaterial Microsystems group is a highly ambitious group, pursuing research on microfabrication of 3D polymer and carbon structures and devices and their application in drug delivery, bioelectrochemistry and biosensing.

Responsibilities and tasks
In biophotovoltaic cells (BPVs), oxygenic photosynthetic organisms such as cyanobacteria are used to capture light, carry out charge separation of water and transfer electrons to an electrode generating electrical power. The advantage of BPVs is that the energy source is solar light, which is virtually unlimited. Furthermore, compared to solar cells BPVs are also able to deliver current in the dark where organic matter accumulated during operation in daylight conditions is processed by the microbes. In state of the art mediator-free BPV cells requires a suitable hosting support for 3D microbial biofilms, which cannot be efficiently electrochemically connected to electrodes with poorly defined architecture. We believe that this is a major limitation, as mainly the microorganisms in close proximity to the electrode contribute to the electron transfer. In PHOENEEX, we will explore hierarchically structured 3DCMES potentially allowing electrochemical energy harvesting in the full depth of the bacterial cultures.

Your main contribution will be development of the miniaturized BPVs. First, biofilm formation on carbon electrodes will be investigated and eventually the surface chemistry has to be optimized. Next, a systematic investigation of the influence of geometry and material properties of carbon microelectrodes on the electron transfer and the energy harvesting from photosynthetic microorganisms such as cyanobacteria will be conducted. Furthermore, the optimization of light transfer to the bacterial biofilms will be investigated. Finally, the performance will be compared to state of the art BPVs.

We expect that you:

  • embrace the responsibility to plan and execute experimental research
  • are interested in cell biology, material science and electrochemistry, and are eager to explore new research areas
  • ideally have experience with bioelectrochemistry, cell culturing and/or microfabrication
  • have excellent engineering skills and an analytical mindset
  • are motivated to contribute to technology enabling sustainable energy
  • appreciate teamwork and have the ability to interact and collaborate with researchers and laboratory technicians in a very cross-disciplinary environment
Candidates should have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) in biochemistry, bioengineering, biomedical engineering, analytical chemistry, material science, microengineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree. The PhD project will be very interdisciplinary and the candidate is expected to have the interest to explore new bio-applications of carbon-based materials. A high grade average is decisive to be considered for the scholarship.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide

The assessment of the applicants will be made by Associate Professor Stephan Sylvest Keller (DTU Nanolab), Professor Jenny Emnéus (DTU Bioengineering) and Postdoc Galina Pankratova (DTU Nanolab). 

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years. 

The fabrication of the microsystems will be carried out at DTU Lyngby Campus at DTU Nanolab. Through the ERC grant, a new laboratory – the PHOENEEX lab - will be established providing the infrastructure necessary to conduct the research in this ambitious project.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Associate Professor Stephan Sylvest Keller,, tel.: +45 4525 5846. 

You can read more about DTU Nanolab and the Biomaterial Microsystems group at

More information on the framework of the ERC Consolidator Grant can be found here: 
ERC Consolidator Grant to DTU researchers.  

Please submit your online application no later than 6 December 2019 (local time)Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill in the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one single PDF file. The file must include: 
  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)
Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Nanolab is a common infrastructure and research facility located at and fully owned by the Technical University of Denmark, DTU. The core facilities consist of a large cleanroom and a state-of-the-art electron microscopy center inaugurated in 2007. The research activities carried out at DTU Nanolab span from nano- and microfabrication with Silicon-based materials, carbon and polymers to the highly sophisticated analysis of nanoscale materials in hard and soft matter. Since 2018, DTU Nanolab is extended to provide expertise in soft matter from small molecule complexes to biological cells.

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 11,500 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. Our main campus is in Kgs. Lyngby north of Copenhagen and we have campuses in Roskilde and Ballerup.