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Available PhD position in TUM

In situ real-time rheological characterization of alginate gelation

The research group “Fluid Dynamics of Complex Biosystems” headed by Prof. Dr. Natalie Germann has an open PhD position in the field of experimental rheology.

Area of research

The research of Professor Germann’s fluid dynamics group focuses on the rheology of viscoelastic fluids that are of industrial relevance (e.g. wormlike micelles, polymer and biopolymer solutions). The reason for the unusual rheological properties of viscoelastic fluids is their microstructural dynamics. To establish a more fundamental understanding of viscoelastic fluids, her research group investigates the relationship between their rheology and their microstructure. The research approach combines thermodynamic modeling and numerical simulation with laboratory experiments.

Your project

You will be working on the DFG project “In situ real-time rheological characterization of alginate gelation.” One challenging issue in rheology is to characterize materials undergoing fast transient structural changes during a physical process such as the gelation of polysaccharides. To investigate the kinetics of such a process, reliable real-time rheological monitoring is required. The scientific objective of this research project is to elucidate the gelation kinetics of alginate by means of a novel rheological approach. The impact of the polysaccharide concentration, the molar ratio of calcium to carboxylate ions, the cation type, and the ionic strength will be studied in situ by performing an instant infusion of divalent cations into the samples. To achieve such an infusion, the rheometer’s base, where the alginate solutions will be placed, must be modified.In addition to the in-situ rheological characterization, the microstructural changes will simultaneously be recorded using optical microscopy. The combined approach can provide new insights into the gelation kinetics of alginate. The findings of this study are also of industrial relevance as this natural polysaccharide is used in many applications in the food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries.

Your profile

We are looking for a talented individual who is excited about academic research. He/she should be able to work independently as well as to cooperate with an interdisciplinary team of researchers. Applicants should hold a Master degree in food technology, chemical engineering, material science or a related field. He/she should have a solid background in experimental rheology. Laboratory work and practical applications will be an essential part of the project. Good communication skills and fluency in both written and spoken English are required. Professional German language skills are expected since the candidate should be able to actively participate in the teaching activities of the FDCB group.

Our offer

The Technische Universität von München (TUM) is one of the most renowned universities in Europe. We are offering excellent working conditions in a highly international research environment. The salary is in accordance to the Public Sector Collective Agreement on Länder (TV-L E13 50%). The position can be filled immediately and is initially limited to two years. Continuation of the appointment beyond this period of time is intended. The salary will be increased by 25% after the PhD student has published one peer-reviewed research article and has been involved in the preparation of one competitive research proposal that has been accepted for funding.

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