PhD position - Adhesion and interactions with hair biomolecules - a cosmetic perspective

Context & Job description

We are looking for a PhD student to be stationed at the ILL, Grenoble, to make use of the reflectometry instrumentation.  Super ADAM is a high-resolution polarized neutron reflectometer suited for both magnetic, hard condensed matter and soft matter, life science investigations, FIGARO is a time of flight reflectometer used predominantly for life science applications.

The project is designed to study adsorption to the lipid palisade that forms the boundary of hair. Strategies for robust, hierarchical adsorption are limited by lack of understanding of how the lipid density and the amount of methyl branching affect the attachment, and by the difficulty of direct study of hair. Such knowledge is crucial for the design of protective and restorative coatings and is thus vital for cosmetic industry. Neutron reflectivity provides the ideal experimental window to understand how the unique branching of hair lipids affects self-assembly and adsorption in water. It is ideal for understanding hierarchical adsorption, where deuteration will provide the contrast. This is particularly crucial in the current climate where there is an urgent need for new, sustainable materials to replace conventional additives which had years of optimization.

The recruited person is expected to collaborate with scientists from ILL and KTH, Stockholm and profit from axillary laboratory equipment which includes several tools for sample preparation and characterization as Langmuir troughs, ellipsometers, QCM-D, light scattering, XRR etc.

The student will be well placed to continue either an academic or industrial career, for example in the cosmetics industry, but also in industries based on similar technology – water purification, mineral flotation, consumer products or pharmaceuticals.

Further information may be obtained from Alexei Vorobiev (tel.: +33 4 76 88 72 89 email: and from Mark Rutland (+46 7 686 40 081, email:

Expected profile

  • Degree allowing enrollment for a PhD (such as MSc, or equivalent) in physics, materials science, nanotechnology, chemistry or closely related science
  • Previous knowledge of scattering and/or adsorption methods or mathematical modelling of data would be an advantage
  • Manual skills and rigorous attention to detail are essential in this work environment
  • Proficiency in English (A proof of upper-intermediate level must be included in the application. Applicants originating from native-English-speaking countries  can  apply  without  the  need  for  proof  of level. An official degree conducted in English will be also accepted as a proof).
  • Compliance with the Marie Sklodowska-Curie mobility rule: candidates may not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in France for more than twelve months in the three years immediately before the date of recruitment.
  • At the date of recruitment, early-stage researchers must be in the first four years of their research careers and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree.
  • Candidates must satisfy eligibility criteria according to KTH Royal Institute of Technology requirements for PhD enrollment.

More details about the application procedure on

Working conditions

The successful candidate will be enrolled in the doctoral school of KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm, Sweden) and based full-time at the ILL (Grenoble, France) for 3 years, other than a several-month secondment, or secondments at L'Oréal Research and Innovation (Aulnay-sous-Bois, France). Additional visits totaling no more than 3 months may be made to collaborating institutions when needed. Furthermore, a varied pedagogical training program will be offered to the successful candidate throughout the 4-year PhD project.  The 4th year will be spent at KTH Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm.

More details on the InnovaXN programme on

Company description

InnovaXN is a Horizon 2020 MSCA COFUND programme providing an opportunity for 40 industrial companies to work with 40 PhD students, performing advanced research and exploiting the unique characterisation techniques of the ESRF and ILL. Through collaborations with industry, innovation will be the central theme of the programme. This will provide a unique cross academic-industry science setting, secondment opportunities and society-relevant research, training the future key researchers able to tackle major research and societal challenges.

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