PhD position: Dense And Highly Stable Polyelectrolyte Multilayer Membranes For Brackish Water Treatment

University of Twente

Twente, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Within the Membrane Surface Science Group (MSuS), part of the Membrane Science & Technology (MST) cluster ( of the University of Twente, The Netherlands we have a vacancy for a PhD student:

‘Dense and highly stable polyelectrolyte multilayer membranes for brackish water treatment’

A PhD project is available regarding the production and characterization of a new, dense and highly stable type of polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM) membranes. Membranes play a critical role in the production of safe drinking water, and with increasing sea levels and surface water pollution, brackish water treatment and organic micropollutant removal are becoming increasingly important. This project will investigate a novel and sustainable approach to implement polymers with proven separation properties in a thin, dense PEM separation layer to create membranes with high NaCl rejections and high permeances. Several new coating strategies will be explored and monitored. Subsequently new membranes will be designed, fine-tuned and produced to combine high stability towards salt and extreme pH with excellent separation properties. Besides salt rejections, molecular weight cut-off and organic micropollutant retentions will be studied to explore possible applications of these novel membranes. There will be a focus on connecting material properties to membrane performance. Moreover, membrane performance will be compared with commercially available membranes. This PhD project is a collaboration with NX Filtration (Enschede), a frontrunning company in the commercialization of PEM membranes.

This project will take place in an international research group with a strong collaborative atmosphere. As part of the PhD program, you would have the opportunity to receive further education within the Twente Graduate School. Furthermore, you may actively contribute in the teaching program, e.g. by supervision of BSc and MSc assignments and teaching assistance.


You have a Master’s degree, preferably with distinction (or international equivalent), in Physical Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Material Science or a closely related discipline. You are motivated and enthusiastic about working on the interface of fundamental and applied research. International experience is a bonus.

Preferably you have experience with polyelectrolyte complexes, membrane science and/or polymer chemistry. You have the ability to work independently and as a member of a research team, while demonstrating a collaborative attitude.

You are able to work in an interdisciplinary team, are eager to learn new skills, have an academic mind-set and are driven by curiosity. You have very good communication skills both written and spoken. English language proficiency is a must and a written test, as well as a scientific presentation, will be part of the interview procedure.


The University of Twente offers a stimulating work environment in an area of applied, forefront research. When fulfilling a PhD position at the UT, you will get the status of junior scientist. You will have an employment contract for the duration of 4 years and can participate in all employee benefits the UT offers. The gross monthly salary starts with € 2.541,- in the first year and increases to € 3.274,- in the fourth year of your employment. Additionally, the University of Twente provides excellent facilities for professional and personal development, a holiday allowance (amount to 8%), an end of year bonus of 8.3%. A high-quality training programme is part of the agreement. The research has to result in a PhD thesis at the end of the employment period. The positions are available from the 1st of February 2023.


Questions regarding these positions can be directed to Prof. Wiebe M. de Vos (, phone: +31 53 489 4495).

Please send your application with c.v. (including contact information for at least two academic references), via the link below. If possible, please add a list of grades of both your BSc and MSc diploma.


In the sustainable chemistry of the future, membranes will make a difference: they allow gases and liquids to be separated in a low-energy, efficient way, while generating much smaller waste streams. Membrane technology contributes to cleaner water and sustainable energy production. Membranes have to meet strict requirements, and the development of tailor-made solutions requires not only knowledge of membrane materials but also of their possible application areas. The strength of the Membrane Science and Technology cluster lies in the long, rich tradition of research in this area at the University of Twente and in the close cooperation between about 60 researchers from a variety of different, but synergistic scientific disciplines. This gives our cluster a solid knowledge of the entire chain: from the fundamental basics to the technology required to construct these membranes, and to the design of industrial applications.


The Faculty of Science & Technology (Technische Natuurwetenschappen, TNW) engages some 700 staff members and 2000 students in education and research on the cutting edge of chemical technology, applied physics and biomedical technology. Our fields of application include sustainable energy, process technology and materials science, nanotechnology and technical medicine. As part of a people-first tech university that aims to shape society, individuals and connections, our faculty works together intensively with industrial partners and researchers in the Netherlands and abroad, and conducts extensive research for external commissioning parties and funders. Our research has a high profile both in the Netherlands and internationally and is strengthened by the many young researchers working on innovative projects with as doctoral candidates and post-docs. It has been accommodated in three multidisciplinary UT research institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centre and Digital Society Institute.





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