Phd Position in Nanocellulose Self-Assembly KU Leuven, Kortrijk Chemical Engineering Belgium


This work will be carried out in the Renewable Materials and Nanotechnology research group (Department of Chemical Engineering) of Prof. Wim Thielemans at the KU Leuven Campus Kulak Kortrijk. It is part of a collaborative project with Prof. Carmen Bartic of the Laboratory of Soft Matter and Biophysics (Department of Physics). Prof. Thielemans' group has extensive expertise in the extraction, chemical modification, characterisation and self-assembly of cellulose nanocrystals. The research group is equipped with all the necessary equipment for these studies including fully equipped wet chemical labs, elemental analysis, light scattering, small and wide angle x-ray scattering (S/WAXS), x-ray photo-electron spectroscopy (XPS), and an isothermal titration calorimeter (ITC) to study the thermodynamic interactions between nanoparticles. We have also numerous international scientific collaborations. The research group at current consists of 8 PhD students and 5 postdoctoral researchers.



This collaborative project aim to develop 3D anisotropic growth media based on renewable cellulose nanocrystals as an extra-cellular matrix for neuronal cell growth.
We will build an understanding of the assembly kinetics, 3D alignment and mechanical properties of cellulose nanocrystal-based extracellular matrices, with and without inclusion of other nanoparticles or materials. 
The expertise will then be used to develop materials that can stimulate, modulate and direct neuronal polarization and axonal growth. If successful, we will make a major contribution to our ability to heal nerve damage. 


We seek an enthousiastic scientist with an interest in nanoparticle self-assembly.  Preference will be given to students with a degree in Chemical Engineering, Physics, Chemistry or Bio-Engineering. Experience in/withnanoparticle self-assembly, surface chemistry and/or scattering will be a strong plus. 

Admission to the Arenberg Doctoral School requires at least a Master's degree with distinction or a Master's degree with a scientific publication in an international peer-reviewed journal.  



We have funding for a 4-year fellowship to work towards a PhD in Chemical Engineering in a very international research group. 
Progress will be annually reviewed following the guidelines by the Arenberg Doctoral School.


For more information please contact Prof. Wim Thielemans, tel.: +32 56 24 61 71, mail:


You can apply for this job no later than April 15, 2019 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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