PhD scholarship in Biocompatible Nanoparticles for Foliar Fertilisation

onsdag 23 jun 21

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Frist 31. juli 2021
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Would you like to contribute to a new agricultural revolution by developing fully biocompatible and eco-responsible fertilizers? Do you have a background in nanoparticle synthesis and characterization? Are you looking for an ideal springboard for a future career as a scientist in either academia or in industry? The department of Energy Conversion and Storage (DTU Energy) at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is looking for a new PhD student for a 3 years project in the field of biocompatible nanoparticles for fertilization, which might just be the right project for you.

The project is integrated in a large effort financed by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. It is led by the department of Plant Biology of the University of Copenhagen and also involves partners at the McGill University (Canada) and the department of Physics of DTU. The goal is to replace the highly inefficient current fertilization practices by a revolutionary process involving nutrient uptake via leaves rather than roots. This will allow by-passing the soil, which prevents 80% of the fertilizers of reaching the plants. Starting with fundamental studies with model nanoparticles (Au and CeO2) as well as detailed studies of the leaves morphology and chemistry at nanometer scale, we then switch to biocompatible nanoparticles containing only essential plant nutrients and go all the way to field tests under fully controlled conditions.

At DTU Energy, you will have access to excellent facilities and competences for synthesis, characterization and modelling.

Responsibilities and qualifications
Your tasks will encompass:

  • Nanoparticle synthesis (Au, CeO2 and hydroxyapatite).
  • Studies of the local surface chemistry of leaves of selected crops by means of nano-scale spectroscopy techniques.
  • Following the fate of your nanoparticles when applied onto the leaves.
  • Besides your experimental work, you will follow specialized courses that are relevant for your project as well as for your future career.

The applicants must demonstrate practical experience with at least 3 among the following techniques. (Please indicate which ones and shortly describe concrete examples of your own relevant previous work involving them):

1) Nanoparticle synthesis, 2) Transmission Electron Microscopy, 3) Atomic Force Microscopy, 4) Surface functionalization, 5) Micro/Nano-scale spectroscopy (infrared / Raman).

You must have:

  • A two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.
  • A master degree in chemistry, chemical engineering, materials science or similar.
  • Excellent communication skills in English, both written and spoken.
  • The ability to work independently, to plan and carry out complicated tasks as well as to be integrated into a multidisciplinary research environment.
  • Very good capability at establishing an overview and take responsibility.
  • The curiosity of discovering the fundamental mechanisms of plant nutrition.

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 Senior Researchers Jean-Claude Grivel and Wolff-Ragnar Kiebach.

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, with expected start in January 2022.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information about the project may be obtained from Senior Researcher Jean-Claude Grivel (

You can read more about DTU Energy at

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark.

Application procedure
Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 31 July 2021 (Danish 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 out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one 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)

You may apply prior to obtaining your master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

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

DTU Energy
The Department of Energy Conversion and Storage is focusing on functional materials and their application in sustainable energy technology. Our research areas include fuel cells, electrolysis, solar cells, electromechanical converters, sustainable synthetic fuels, and batteries. The Department, which has more than 200 employees, was founded in 2012. Additional information about the department can be found on

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 12,900 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. DTU has campuses in all parts of Denmark and in Greenland, and we collaborate with the best universities around the world.