PhD: Bottom-up Design of Adaptive Materials

The Cluster of Excellence livMatS develops completely novel, bioinspired materials systems that adapt autonomously to various environments and harvest clean energy from their surroundings. The intention of these purely technical – yet in a behavioral sense quasi-living – materials systems is to meet the demands of humans with regard to pioneering environmental and energy technologies. The societal relevance of autonomous systems and their sustainability will thus play an important role in their development. The research program of livMatS is characterized by highly interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers from a broad range of fields including engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, psychology, the humanities, and sustainability sciences.

The livMatS Cluster of Excellence is offering a PhD research position for the following project:

Bottom-up Design of Adaptove Materials from Redox Responsive Building Blocks

Starting date: ASAP

Project description
Key inspiration for the development of live-like materials is Nature itself and its assembly of complex systems from small building blocks such as amino acids or monosaccharides. In this project we follow this bottom-up approach but with the tools of synthetic chemistry, where our smallest building blocks are functional groups such as thiols and catechols. Here we choose redox-sensitive functional groups that can undergo both, reversible and irreversible oxidation upon different trigger (e.g. electrochemically) or by addition of a fuel (e.g. hydrogen peroxide). Through modern polymer chemistry, we then introduce such groups into polymeric building blocks going from small to macromolecules. These macromolecules are designed in a way that they can form materials, e.g. through network formation or self-assembly. Through our bottom-up design, we enable this material formation and resulting material properties to become adaptive. The project work will involve both synthesis and material analysis and characterization, e.g., solid phase polymer chemistry and controlled radical polymerizations, fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy, rheology and AFM.

Candidate profile
Candidate has to have a M.Sc. in Chemistry or related field and hands-on experience with the synthesis of macromolecules or polymers starting from low-molecular weight compounds. Experience with material synthesis (e.g., hydrogels) is advantageous. Experience in material characterization (e.g., fluorescence microscopy or rheology) is advantageous. English (fluent in writing and speaking) is required, German language skills are advantageous.
We are an international, multicultural, diverse and open research group. We are looking for someone with a strong interest in research that will also support our outreach activities and teaching the next generation of polymer and material researchers.

Please hand in:
• Motivation letter detailing why you are interested in this specific project and how your previous research qualifies you for the project (up to 1,500 words)
• Curriculum Vitae with list of publications (if applicable)
• Certified copies of your university degree(s) with grades (B.Sc. and M.Sc. certificate / Diploma certificate and transcript)
• Short summary of your master’s thesis (up to 1,000 words)
• Work sample (chapter from recent thesis or journal article up to 1,000 words)
• Two referees with contact details and reference letters

Your documents will not be returned after the application process. For this reason, please submit copies only. The position is funded until 31 December 2025. An extension is possible. The maximum total funding period for this position is 30 months. The salary will be determined in accordance with TV-L E13. We are particularly pleased to receive applications from women for the position advertised here.

Please send your application in English including supporting documents mentioned above citing the reference number 00003065. Application deadline is 04 June 2023.

Application is to be emailed as one MERGED PDF file to

For questions about the project, contact Prof. Laura Hartmann at