Are you a driven individual eager to embark on a high-impact Ph.D. journey in autonomous or active soft matter? Join us in exploring the fascinating world of microorganism swimming and self-organization in 3D environments using optical techniques. Seize this opportunity to make a lasting contribution to the scientific community


  • HOURS40 hr.
  • SALARY INDICATIONSalary gross/monthlybased on full-time€ 2,541 – € 3,247
  • DEADLINE20 Jun 2023

We are happy to announce a fully funded Ph.D. position in the cutting-edge field of active soft matter, focusing on developing artificial microswimmers capable of autonomous motion and transport in 3D. We are looking for a highly motivated and curiosity-driven person who enjoys conceptual thinking and is passionate about learning new concepts and doing original research.

Autonomous motion, activity, and transport of microorganisms in fluids are the hallmark features of living systems. In recent years, this has fueled an emerging new research field, namely ‘’active or autonomous matter,” focused on designing synthetic microswimmers with unique capabilities such as self-propulsion, assembling themselves, and response to local environments [1,2]. However, creating micron-sized artificial building blocks that can swim autonomously in 3D is challenging. 

To address this challenge, the primary objective of this project is to develop a unique experimental model system to better understand the dynamic self-organization of microorganisms in 3D using optical microscopy techniques. Ultimately, this project aims to increase our fundamental understanding of the dynamic self-organization of microorganisms in 3D and steer the development of valuable design rules, ultimately leading to the fabrication of smart micromachines for potential technological and biomedical applications, e.g., transporting cargos to desired targets, sensing of the local environment, mixing of fluids, reconfigurable materials, and active mass transport in catalysis.

The successful candidate will join the Active Soft Matter Lab within the Nanobiophysics group at the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands. This position offers ample opportunities for collaboration and interaction with various academic and industrial partners. You will work in a dynamic, highly interdisciplinary environment, utilizing state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to further the understanding and applications of microswimmers.References:1.       Vutukuri, et al., Nature, 586, 52, 2020.  article  

2.      Vutukuri, et al., Nat. Communi, 586, 52, 2020.article


  • A Master’s degree (or equivalent) in applied Physics, Chemistry, Biophysics, or at the interface between Physics and Chemistry is required. Students with an MS or MSc in Chemical Engineering, Materials Engineering, or Mechanical Engineering are also encouraged to apply if their Master’s thesis work is related to soft matter.
  • Prior experience with experimental skills, ideally including optical microscope techniques and colloidal particle synthesis, is a valuable asset but not mandatory.
  • Working knowledge or demonstrated practical programming experience in Python, ImageJ, and/or MATLAB is highly beneficial.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English are essential.


  • You will be appointed on a fulltime position for 4 years.
  • The position is available immediately.
  • The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues in a stimulating scientific environment.
  • The PhD salary is € 2.541 in the first year, increasing to € 3.247 in the fourth year.
  • The offer further involves a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%, a solid pension scheme, a minimum of 29-day holidays, and numerous professional and personal development programs.


Please submit your online application before 20th June 2023 for full consideration. Your application should include the following documents:

  • Cover letter in which you describe your motivation, qualifications, and research experience for the position (max 1 page)—possible starting date.
  • Curriculum vitae, including a list of publications (if applicable).
  • Digital bachelor and master transcripts.
  • Name and contact details of two references who worked closely with you.
  • Note that we accept applications submitted through our online application portal.

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. H. R. Vutukuri ( +31 53 489 3223.


Our Lab focuses on active soft matter and bioinspired materials and is situated within the Nanobiophysics group at the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands.  Our team is passionately committed to unraveling the fundamental principles governing dynamic self-organization in living matter, biomechanics of bio-membranes, and active particle transport in complex fluids through a soft matter lens.


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.



Do you have questions about this vacancy? Then you can contact Hanumantha Rao for all substantive questions about this position and the application procedure. For general questions about working for the UT, please refer to the chatbot.