PhD position: Theoretical investigation of the transfer between macroscopic and microscopic forces and design patterns for their control

The Excellence Cluster Living, Adaptive and Energy-autonomous Materials Systems (livMatS) welcomes applications for a

PhD position: Theoretical investigation of the transfer between macroscopic and microscopic forces and design patterns for their control

Part-time position (65 %), Start-date: At the earliest possible date.

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.

Project description
The central objective of the project is to understand how mechano-sensing sacrificial bonds embedded as crosslinkers in polymeric networks need to be designed to develop self-strengthening animate materials and mechano-chemical memories. This needs profound understanding of the corresponding energy landscapes as well as in the coupling of macroscopic forces to microscopic bonds. This challenge is addressed in a combined experimental and computational study, where the PhD position is about the modelling part. The underlying questions cross multiple scales. These range from quantum mechanical (QM) descriptions for reaction barriers to the creation of effective models describing the surrounding network. The QM description also allows for parameter determination needed in modeling of the reaction network, which eventually allows for extraction of design patterns for mechano-sensing materials.

Expected candidate profile
We seek a highly motivated and well-trained individual with a specific interest in theoretical modeling on the atomic scale. A background in the underlying mathematics is a necessity. You should have a strong affinity to programming and software development, ideally, but not necessarily in Python. Experience in modeling based on ab-initio calculations and/or force fields, Monte-Carlo sampling or molecular dynamics are very welcomed. You should ideally have a Master's degree in physics with good marks in order to be accepted as a PhD student at the department of Physics. We consider also candidates with background in physical chemistry, material science or related disciplines, however.

Please hand in:

  • Letter of intent 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 (BA and MA certificate)
  • Short summary of your master’s (up to 1,000 words)
  • Work sample (chapter from recent thesis or journal article, up to 5,000 words)
  • Suggestion of two referees with contact details

Your documents will not be returned after the application process. For this reason, please submit copies only.
This position is limited to 36 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 00001151, by 18.08.2020 at the latest. Please send your application to the following address in written or electronic form:

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Freiburger Zentrum für interaktive Werkstoffe
und bioinspirierte Technologien (FIT)
Dr. Monika Schulz
Georges-Köhler-Allee 105
D-79110 Freiburg
Kennwort: livMatS
E-Mail: (please send one single PDF file only)

For further information, please contact Herr PD Dr. Michael Walter on the phone number +49 761 203-95072 or E-Mail

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