PhD position-Optimising antimicrobial & cleaning longevity & residuality of polymer-surfactant films

Context & Job description

You will join ID10’s team at the ESRF. ID10 is a versatile instrument dedicated to a wide range of surfaces studies on soft matter systems. The aim of the PhD project is to develop and characterize novel formulations that give the surfaces in home, work and public places long-lasting protection, preventing the spread and growth of pathogens without the need for repeated sanitisation.

You will have to develop and implement the relevant methodology to study relationships at different length and time scales: the molecular structure of the polymer, the surfactants and the antimicrobial actives; the physical interactions and self-assemblies of these ingredients in solution; the equilibrium in-plane and out of plane interfacial structures formed during drying a film on model hydrophilic and hydrophobic substrates; the 3-dimensional structure of the film (thickness, topography, uniformity/inhomogeneity). X-ray and neutron scattering experiments will be complemented by AFM, surface tension, and contact angle measurements, Brewster Angle Microscopy, light scattering to study the self-assembly in solution, rheometry, ellipsometry and QCM to study polymer-surfactant interactions at model substrates.

You will be involved in developing novel sample environment for relative humidity and temperature control to study the nature of phase transitions during the film formation, using nano/micro-focused GISAXS/GIXRD.

Further information may be obtained from Oleg Konovalov (tel.: +33 (0)4 76 88 27 31, email: and from Ralf Schweins (+33 (0)4 76 20 70 91, email:

Expected profile

  • Degree allowing enrolment for a PhD (such as MSc, Master 2 de Recherche, Laurea or equivalent) in physics, materials science, chemistry or closely related science
  • A background in experimentation is desirable, and knowledge in X-rays scattering and soft condensed matter 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 would be advantageous and can be provided 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; Students without proof upper-intermediate level may still apply and their level of English will be checked during the interview).
  • 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 the partner university requirements for PhD enrolment.

More details about the application procedure on

Working conditions

The successful candidate will be enrolled in the doctoral school of University Bristol (UK) and based full-time at the ESRF and ILL (Grenoble, France), other than a six months secondment at Company Procter & Gamble. Additional visits totaling no more than 3 months may be made to the University Bristol (UK) when needed. Furthermore, a varied pedagogical training programme will be offered to the successful candidate throughout the 3-year PhD project.

More details on the InnovaXN program 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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