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Logic Self-Reporting Mechano-Adaptive Metamaterials

Doctoral position in the Area of Mechanofluorescent, Self-Reporting DNA Hydrogel Materials

In the framework of livMatS, the Walther group at the Institute for Macromolecular Chemistry at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg is searching for a highly motivated doctoral researcher with a background in polymer chemistry, DNA nanoscience and materials science to work on “Mechanofluorescent, Self-Reporting DNA Hydrogel Materials” with an overall aim to create logically behaving mechanoadaptive materials with self-reporting capacity. The project encompasses DNA and polymer synthesis, their hybridization and the in-depth analysis of the mechanical properties. We provide you with an inspiring and collaborative team atmosphere, cutting-edge infrastructure and ample opportunities to develop as an individual young scientist.

Selected recent references from us on the topic:

  1. “Modular Design of Programmable Mechanofluorescent DNA Hydrogels” Nature Commun. 10, 529 (2019).
  2. “Materials Learning from Life: Concepts for Active, Adaptive and Autonomous Molecular Systems” Chem. Soc. Rev. 46, 5588 (2017).
  3. “Antagonistic Enzymes in a Biocatalytic pH Feedback System Program Autonomous DNA Hydrogel Life Cycles” Nano Lett. 17, 4989 (2017).
  4. “Pathway-Controlled Formation of Mesostructured all-DNA Microgels and their Superstructures” Nat. Nanotech., 13, 730 (2018).

More information on the group can be found here: www.walther-group.com

As an ideal candidate you are creative, highly self-motivated, ambitious and communicative to excel in scientific challenges. A previous knowledge and hands-on expertise in DNA synthesis or polymer chemistry with a focus on advanced architectural control is a must. We are ready to teach the rest. A keen interest in physical chemistry, advanced analytics (in particular microscopy) and mechanical behavior of material is an important prerequisite.

Applications are closed as of February 25th 2019. We expect to fill this position by May 1st 2019. The position will be supervised by Prof. Dr. Andreas Walther.


Doctoral position in the area of biology, biomechanics, biophysics or engineering

This doctoral position belongs to the livMatS project Logic Self-Reporting Mechano-Adaptive Metamaterials in which we seek a scale-bridging integration, originating from results based on two biological mechanical role models (super-damping pomelo peel with auxetic energy dissipation and superelastic resilin from grasshopper legs with near perfect energy storage). Central aim is to achieve externally programmable auxetic foams with negative Poisson ratio, and macroscale mechano-transduction at high cycle lifetimes. In the framework of a biomimetic approach, the biological studies will include an initial screening and an in-depth quantitative analysis of suitable biological role models to learn exemplarily from biological materials systems as to their hierarchically organized functional morphology and biomechanics. These results will render the basis for 3D-printing a first generation of auxetic foam structures.

Applicants must hold a master's degree in the fields of biology, biomechanics, biophysics or engineering. Key competences are experience in analyzing structure-function-relationships in plants and in contributing to the development of bioinspired materials systems (in interdisciplinary cooperation with the project partners). For the latter, one essential task is the data preparation for later modelling. The candidate should have experience in quantitative analyses of biological structures based on morphological-anatomical and biomechanical experiments as well as knowledge and experience in histo-chemical procedures, imaging methods (e.g. LM, TEM, SEM, µ-CT) and multi-scale mechanical testing. A good knowledge in the field of statistical analyses will be greatly appreciated.

Applications are closed as of April 18th 2019. The position will be supervised by Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck.


Doctoral position in the Area of Polymer Physics

New design principles for molecular building blocks with faster response times on all scales are required for future material systems. Therefore, the mechanical response of the respective molecular building blocks has to be characterized, ideally by mapping the complete relevant energy landscape. Furthermore, the way molecular properties translate to the mesoscale and macroscale is crucial. In particular, the nanomechanical properties will be compared to the mechanical response of macroscopic systems (e.g. self-assemblies or hydrogels). In this PhD-project AFM-based single molecule force spectroscopy will be used to determine the nanomechanical response of the molecular building blocks.
Then, the nanomechanical response of crosslinker systems will be tested in a direction dependent way.
Next, AFM based frequency dependent nanomechanical characterization of hydrogels and elastomers built from these materials will be done and supported by a combined AFM and fluorescence microscopy approach. In addition, the (self-)assembly processes of molecular building blocks will be imaged down to the timescale of seconds with nanometer precision using high-speed AFM imaging.

Applicants should have a master's degree in physics, biophysics, physical chemistry, macromolecular chemistry or similar. Furthermore, eagerness to learn new methods and to acquire further knowledge as well as good self-organization and ability to work independently are required.

Applications are closed as of February 15th 2019. We expect to fill this position by April 1st 2019. The position will be supervised by Prof. Dr. Thorsten Hugel.


Doctoral position in the area of synthetic organic chemistry

In the framework of livMatS, the Jessen group at the Institute of Organic Chemistry is looking for a highly motivated doctoral researcher. The candidate should have an MSc in Chemistry with a specialization in synthetic Organic Chemistry. Ideally, the candidate will have experience in nucleoside and nucleic acid chemistry and the purification of such compounds.

In brief, we are aiming at the development of photoactivatable polyphosphate fuels for driving feedback mechanisms in materials and the design and synthesis of photoswitchable nucleobases and photoswitchable/photocleavable DNA backbones that can be controlled with light (two-photon absorption). The building blocks will be incorporated into designed synthetic DNA strands with switchable features to control material properties on the molecular level. The position offered will be embedded in several collaborative projects spanning materials, synthetic, physical, and analytical chemistry. Within the cluster and the participating teams, we will provide you with cutting-edge infrastructure in an inspiring and collaborative team atmosphere. As an ideal candidate you are creative, highly motivated, ambitious and eager to drive research forward in larger teams and collaborative efforts.

Applications are closed as of April 15th 2019. The position will be supervised by Prof. Dr. Henning Jessen,  Prof. Dr. Andreas Walther, Prof. Dr. Thorsten Hugel.


Doctoral position in the Area of Solid Mechanics for Triboelectricity and Metamaterials

Mechanical processes are essential for living materials systems. In this project, you will develop and apply numerical methods to gain insights into the mechanics of triboelectric nanogenerators and metamaterials. For both systems, the mechanical response is essential for the system’s function. In triboelectric generators, rough or patterned surfaces make contact and the mechanics of the interface determines contact area and stiffness and hence the charging efficiency. For metamaterials, the structural design of the individual unit cell determines the constitutive macroscopic response that can be designed in silico. Both problems will be attacked with the help of spectral solvers that allow for efficient solution of the underlying physical problem.

The candidate is expected to carry out this project in close collaboration with experimental efforts. Applicants should have a master's degree in microsystems engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science, physics or related disciplines. Basic knowledge of a scientific programming language (Python, C++, Fortran) is required. Willingness to integrate into larger software development projects and to work closely with experimentalists is mandatory.

This position will be split between the project Logic Self-Reporting Mechano-Adaptive Metamaterials and the project Interfaces, charge-transfer and non-adiabatic processes and their exploitation in a frequency-tunable tribogenerator.

The position will be supervised by Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka.

Applications are closed as of January 15th 2019.


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