PhD Position in Functional Soft Matter Structures from Flow-Induced Stretching and Folding

Catholic University of Leuven Chemical Engineering Department


The PhD project will be performed in the Soft Matter Rheology and Technology (SMaRT) section in the Chemical Engineering Department at KU Leuven under the supervision of Prof. Ruth Cardinaels. The research in the SMaRT group is mostly of experimental nature and aims at designing methodologies for intelligent process or product (formulation) design using so-called “complex fluids” or “soft matter”. Extensive state-of-the-art and home-built experimental facilities for the characterization of mechanical properties in the liquid state (bulk as well as interfacial rheology), combined with various techniques to characterize microstructure development during flow are available. Moreover, the lab is equipped with all major types of commercial 3D printing devices as well as several in-house adapted devices. Dielectric and electromagnetic properties can be characterized in the low frequency as well as high frequency region.


Formany applications, polymers have substantial advantages as compared to othermaterials, e.g. they are light-weight, flexible, easy to process andcorrosion-resistant. By blending multiple polymers together or addingconductive or magnetic nanoparticles, multiple functionalities can beincorporated into one material. However, the resulting properties are stronglydependent on the dispersion and distribution of the nanoparticles as well asthe phase morphology. Multiphasic structures are of particular importance sincethe microstructure can act as a template to tailor the particle distribution bymeans of selective localization. The types of morphologies that can be realizedwith traditional processing methods are however limited. In the proposedproject, you will develop novel multi-phasic microstructures via flow-inducedstretching and folding in microfluidic mixers. To achieve this goal, you willneed to formulate material compositions and engineer processing conditionsutilizing bulk and interfacial rheology as well as in-situ characterizations ofthe flow field in microfluidic multi-phase flows. The structures that you willgenerate will be aimed at electromagnetic shielding and cloaking functionality,for which you will collaborate with other researchers working on this  ERC-funded project.


-         You are recently graduated orwill soon graduate with a master degree in materials science, chemicalengineering, physics or a related discipline.

-         You have excellent analyticalskills, high grades and you are a creative and critical thinker.

-         You are highly motivated tostart your career in research and to pursue a PhD degree during a four yearresearch period.

-         You have prior experience inexperimental research obtained during project or thesis work, preferably in thearea of soft matter, rheology or microfluidics.

-         You are able to report yourprogress in an accurate and timely fashion.

-         You have excellentcommunication skills, with fluency in both written and spoken English.

-         You are open forcollaboration with the other team members.


-         Full-time PhD position for fouryears with a competitive salary and additional benefits such as healthinsurance, access to university sports facilities, etc.

-         The opportunity to work andlive in one of the most innovative universities and cities in Europe. Leuven islocated 20 min from Brussels, in the centre of Europe.

-         International working environmentand possibility to present your work on international conferences.

-         Your research will form part ofan ERC-funded starting grant project, involving a team of 5 researchers workingon the development of electromagnetic metamaterials.

-         Your research will be embedded ina world-renowned research group consisting of 5 faculty members active in thearea of soft matter rheology and technology.

-         A state-of-the-art experimentalinfrastructure.

-         A full-time employment for fouryears, with an intermediate evaluation after one year.

-         To support you during your PhDand to prepare you for the rest of your career, you will participate in theArenberg Doctoral School doctoral training program (Doctoral Training – Arenberg Doctoral School (


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Ruth Cardinaels, tel.: +32 16 32 16 88, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than June 06, 2023 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: June 6, 2023
  • Tags: Chemische Ingenieurstechnieken
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