Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Soft Matter Research Group

County of Durham, United Kingdom
£33,797 - £35,845
Jun 20, 2020
Jul 20, 2020
Contract Type
Full Time
The Department

The Department of Physics at Durham University is one of the leading UK Physics departments with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students.

The Department is committed to advancing equality and we aim to ensure that our culture is inclusive, and that our systems support flexible and family-friendly working, as recognized by our Juno Champion and Athena SWAN Silver awards. We recognise and value the benefits of diversity throughout our staff and students.

The Soft and BioNanoInterfaces Lab is among the worldleaders in experimental nanoscience at interfaces.This world leadingresearch group pioneered novel investigations technique and is a referencein the field for high-resolution atomic force microscopy. It is a diverse,vibrant and dynamic research group of the Condensed Matter section. Theresearch group also hosts state-of-the-art microscopy facilities, supported bya strategic investments worth close to £1.0M over the last five years. Theresearch group is highly interdisciplinary with students, postdocs and visitorsfrom across the world. The group also participates in many collaborativeprojects with other leading research groups in the field and companies aroundthe world.

The Role

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the field of experimental nanoscale interfacial science and technique development, to work with Dr Kislon Voitchovsky in the Department of Physics at Durham University.

The position is to commence in December 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter. It is a fixed-term post for 24 months with a possibility of a further 12 month extension.

The project involves the study of the sub-microsecond dynamics of ions and charged molecules at solid-liquid interfaces. The investigation technique, developed specifically for the project, combines combine the high-resolution capability of atomic force microscopy together with high-frequency electrochemical measurements. Your primary role is to use the technique in order to investigate dynamics of single metal ions at the interface with graphene oxide and model lipids bilayers in aqueous solutions. Given the cutting-edge nature of the measurement technique, you should be able to engage with the technical developments, both hardware and software. The work will be conducted as part of a team, and you will interact closely with other experimentalists and theorists conducting computer simulations of your measurements.

Informal enquiries are welcome and should please be directed to


  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator.
  • To conduct high-resolution electrochemical atomic force microscopy measurements in solution, process and analyse the results.
  • To create suitable samples from raw materials (lipids, graphene oxide).
  • To engage with the development and improvement of the technique and assist with the research objectives wherever relevant.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator and other colleagues in the research project, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.
  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To deliver training in research techniques/approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
  • To be involved in student supervision, as appropriate, and assist with the assessment of the knowledge of students.
  • To contribute to fostering a collegial working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • To engage in citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.
  • To engage in continuing professional development by participation in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or by membership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant training and development courses.
  • To communicate and collaborate with the industrial collaborators.

This post is fixed term for 24 months with a possible 12 month extension.

The post-holder is employed to work on research/a research project which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

Successful applicants will ideally be in post by 1st October 2020.The Requirements



  • Agood first degree in [Physics or Chemistry or Engineering] or a related subject.
  • APhD (or be close to submission) in [Physics or Chemistry or Engineering] or arelated subject.
  • Demonstrableexpertise with atomic force microscopy in liquid, preferably using dynamicmodes (amplitude or frequency modulation).
  • Experiencewith technique developments, including handling data acquisition andsynchronisation, machine control and non-standard approaches.
  • Demonstrableability to collaborate with academic partners and find creative solutions to practicalproblems.
  • Experiencein conducting high quality academic research.
  • Demonstrableability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication inhighly-ranked journals.
  • Demonstrableability to present research papers at [international] conferences andcommunicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academiccommunity.

  • Demonstrableability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating inresearch meetings.
  • Abilityto work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
  • Excellentinterpersonal and communication skills.



  • Experience working with electrochemistry and/orelectrochemical atomic force microscopy.
  • Experience conducting fast (MHz) electricalmeasurements.
  • Experience with sample preparation, in particularsynthetic lipid membranes.
  • Strongpublication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
  • Atrack record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings,commensurate with stage of career.
  • Demonstrableability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with otheracademics.
  • Experience of overseeing students withrespect to the development of their practical/research skills e.g. acting as ademonstrator; supervising student projects/practicals.

  • Demonstrableability to plan and manage independent research.
  • Good knowledge of common programming languages anddata analysis software (e.g. Python, Matlab, Igor Pro, etc.

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Dr KislonVoitchovsky All enquiries will be treated in thestrictest confidence.