PhD Position – Electrochemistry and Microsystems Engineering – Development of microfluidic valves for tactile displays based on electrowetting

We offer a PhD Position at the NeptunLab. The NeptunLab is the highly interdisciplinary research group of Prof. Bastian E. Rapp at the Department of Microsystems Technology (IMTEK) at the University of Freiburg. Research interests include the development of novel materials, technologies and processes for structuring materials and industrial applications. The work of the NeptunLab is published in the most important international journals including Lab-on-a-Chip, Advanced Materials, Angewandte Chemie and Nature and has been featured in national and international radio and print media including the BBC, the New York Times and the Discovery Channel.

Electrowetting is characterized by the change of the wetting properties of a material upon applying an electric field. A liquid that wets a surface, i.e., forms a wetting angle of <90°C on a material, will readily be pulled into a capillary, or a small microfluidic channel, made of that same material. By applying external electric fields, the wetting characteristics in small channels can be changed. The concepts of electrowetting can thus be used to manipulate liquid flows in microchannels. Within this project a microfluidic concept for selective movement of liquids and mechanical components such as membranes and pins will be developed and optimized. The aim is to control the liquid flow in hundreds of microchannels and thus set up a system with hundreds of movable pins which can be used as a tactile display whose surface can be controlled and changed dynamically. The project involves fabrication of the microfluidic system through lithography, connection of the system to fluidics and power sources and testing the performance of the system as well as characterization of the performance. This position will play a key role in an ERC Consolidator Grant which will develop a next-generation, first-of-its-kind tactile displays for visually impaired people. Being a project of high social and scientific relevance, the project and this position thus offers significant potential for developing an academic career as well as high-impact publications.

Activities and responsibilities

  • Generation and geometry-optimization of microfluidic channels by lithography
  • Generation of selectively wettable channels
  • Connection of channel setup to power source for electrowetting
  • Characterization of behaviour of different electrolytes inside the channels
  • Controlled movement of mechanical components such as pins via the channels
  • Proof of concept for tactile displays

Qualification profile

  • Master’s degree and Studies in electrochemisty, electrical engineering, chemical engineering or related subjects
  • Profound knowledge of electrowetting and lithography is required
  • Knowledge of polymer chemistry is beneficial.
  • Excellent academic track record
  • Excellent English skills in reading and writing
  • You should be a team player with ambitions who can conduct research projects independently
  • You should be able to structure and document your work properly
  • You should be a creative mind, developing your own ideas and willing to go the extra mile to generate outstanding scientific results.

Benefits

  • An interdisciplinary work environment with a team of motivated scientists that strive to develop clever solutions for scientific as well as industrial problems
  • Well-funded projects with access to excellent state-of-the art infrastructure, generous lab space and scientific equipment
  • An aspiring young team with great emphasis on publications and publicity
  • A lab structure that promotes the development of the individual members and fosters open-minded scientific discussions
  • A strong focus on the career development of the candidate including submitting to and attending the most relevant international conferences and summer schools
  • An environment that supports start-up mentality – if your research is industrially applicable and promising, we will move towards commercialization of your solution
  • Payment of TV-L 13 75% (full time)
  • Depending on the performance of the candidate the PhD degree is generally finished within three years

Send application to

Visit our homepage to find out more: www.neptunlab.org
Please note the "before you apply" section for instructions: https://www.neptunlab.org/index.php/open-positions#BeforeYouApply

While applying for the job please refer to jobvector and use the following reference number: erc1-electrowetting

About Universität Freiburg

The NeptunLab is the highly interdisciplinary research group of Prof. Bastian E. Rapp at the Department of Microsystems Technology (IMTEK) at the University of Freiburg. Research interests include the development of novel materials, technologies and processes for structuring materials and industrial applications. The work of the NeptunLab is published in the most important international...

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