As a researcher in Organic Chemistry you focus on the grafting of natural colours on nanoparticles for the Beauti-Fully Biobased Fibres project. You will be based at ORC-WUR in Wageningen and occasionally work in Breda.

You will be based at : ORC-WUR in Wageningen and occasionally work in Breda

Work scope : 0,8 – 1,0 fte

Starting date: January 1st 2022, or sooner, if possible


Great job
The project
The textile and clothing sector accounts for some of the world’s largest-scale economic activities. The European textile industry has taken significant steps in developing sustainable manufacturing processes and materials, for example in water treatment and the development of biobased and recycled fibres. However, the large quantities of harmful and toxic chemicals used remain a serious concern, also in regard to the use of synthetic pigments and dyes used to colour textile fibres.

The objective of the project Beauti-Fully Biobased Fibres project is to develop sustainable and renewable colourants with improved lightfastness and colour intensity for colouration of biobased man-made textile fibres. Avans University of Applied Sciences is joined by Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, Maastricht University and representatives from the textile industry in this project.

Recently, the promising results of the nanoparticle modification were presented by the partners in a scientific article in journal Langmuir (de Haan et al., 2021). In this article, we reported how relevant properties such as thermal stability and photostability of the natural colorant alizarin can be improved by grafting it onto ZnO nanoparticles (NPs), allowing application in a warm extrusion process for the fabrication of polyamide fibres. For this study, ZnO NPs were synthesized and subsequently functionalized with alizarin. The alizarin-coated ZnO NPs (i.e., dyed nanoparticles, DNPs) were characterized with TGA, UV–vis, FT-IR, 1H-NMR, 13C (CP-MAS)-NMR, XPS, and quantum chemical studies using various DFT sets. Evaluation of the physical and chemical properties of the nanoparticle-dyed nylon revealed that, indeed, the properties substantially improved. This opens a range of further studies into surface-immobilized dyes.

Source article: de Haan, M. P., Balakrishnan, N., Kuzmyn, A. R., Li, G., Willemen, H. M., Seide, G., Derksen, G. C. H., Albada, B., & Zuilhof, H. (2021). Alizarin Grafting onto Ultrasmall ZnO Nanoparticles: Mode of Binding, Stability, and Colorant Studies. Langmuir, 37(4), 1446–1455.

Your work
As follow up on the Langmuir paper, another set of anthraquinones will be grafted on ZnO and on Al2O3. The effect of different positions of the OH groups on the main anthraquinone structure and its relation towards nanoparticle binding will be investigated. Grafting and analysis of the molecular structures of the dyed nanoparticles will be done, as well as determination of the lightfastness in PLA.

We specifically aim for a broader colour palette ZnO nanoparticles by applying different naturally occurring yellow and blue compounds. The colour properties will be determined by PLA injection moulding. Grafted nanoparticles will be compared with the non-grafted compounds as control group. The photodegradation of the obtained PLA materials will be studied in detail.

Your role as Researcher in Organic Chemistry
You will work under the responsibility of dr. ir. Dorien (G.C.H.) Derksen, principal researcher at the research group Biobased Building Blocks & Products (BBB&P), which is part of the Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy (CoE BBE). CoE BBE helps companies reach their biobased ambitions through the development of higher education and carrying out applied research. In that way, CoE BBE provides highly trained professionals who can implement and transform the transition towards a biobased society. The research group BBB&P consists of 12 people: 6 senior and 4 junior researchers and 2 supporting staff under the guidance of professor Han van Kasteren. These researchers have different backgrounds such as analytic chemistry, organic chemistry and chemical engineering. The researchers are supported by interns and B.Sc. students.

This part of the project is in close cooperation with the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry (chair prof. Han Zuilhof) of Wageningen University of Applied Sciences (ORC-WUR). This will be where the majority of the work will be done. The research conducted within the Laboratory of ORC-WUR is directed towards the study of organic reactivity at the forefront of 21st century chemistry, specifically at the overlap of nanotechnology, chemical biology, and organic synthesis.

You will be based at ORC-WUR in Wageningen where you have access to first-rate laboratory facilities and equipment. You will occasionally spend time at CoE BBE in Breda for the use of some particular techniques related to colour testing in materials or consultation with the principal scientist and your supervisor at CoE BBE.

What we offer
An environment where you have the freedom to discover and improve things: this is how we get the best out of you. We’ll help you to continue developing, enabling you to contribute to the ongoing professionalisation of our organisation. We’ll also offer you:

• A monthly salary of at least € 2.598,- up to a maximum of € 3.479,- gross based on a fulltime position (scale 10 in the collective labour agreement for Higher Professional Education).  A year-end bonus, which is approximately equal to a 13th month.
• We will offer a temporary appointment for 1 year (for the duration of the project)
• A good pension scheme and collective health insurance.
• A good balance between work and private life, and good workstations.

You fit right in
• You should have an MSc or PhD degree in Organic Chemistry or related education with proven affinity for organic chemistry. Experience in synthetizing and/or analysing organic molecules or experience in surface modifications would be a significant advantage.
• You are able to perform independent lab work, are interested in why molecules behave as they do, and have the confidence to explore below the surface in the creation of next-generation advanced molecules and materials.
•You have affinity with the collaborative nature of this project.
• You have good written and oral communication skills in English.
• You have an affinity with supporting students with their work placements, final dissertations or teaching courses.
• You are curious, dedicated, open and ambitious.
• You are a flexible team player and you are open for working with several knowledge partners in a project.
• You are available from January 1st or sooner, if possible.

Innovative Avans
Big ambitions, human scale. Committed, personal – that’s Avans. A place where you can be yourself. With your unique ideas and insights, we’ll give you plenty of freedom. That’s part of our learning and entrepreneurial character. We offer optimum flexible education, in co-creation with the professional field. And we are always changing, and moving with the world around us. Our aim is to offer ever more personalisation, so that our students can choose part of their own learning pathways. That’s our Ambition for 2025. Read these stories to discover Avans as an employer.

Contribute to our Ambition
Do you see a rewarding role for yourself as we continue to professionalise our education? Then apply no later than October 31st by clicking ‘apply’. Let us know why you feel like this is the right challenge for you in your motivation letter. If you have any questions, please contact Dorien Derksen, principal scientist at BBB&P of CoE BBE, +31620355906, or Bauke Albada, university teacher at ORC-WUR of Wageningen, +31628136581,
We will do our best to provide you with an update about your application within 2 weeks after the vacancy closes.

We find our own candidates, so we are not interested in unsolicited services or offers.


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