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OPEN CALL - Student internships

The competition "Students for PD2PI” - NOW IS OPEN

AIM OF THE COMPETITION: to select students who will carry out a research internship at the Institute of Physical Chemistry PAS under the supervision of a postdoctoral fellow employed in the framework of the PD2PI project

INTERNSHIPS DURATIONup to 6 months

WHO CAN APPLYMSc or bachelor students of chemistry, physics, materials science/engineering, biotechnology, or related fields are eligible to participate in the competition. The candidates must be able to communicate in English on a daily basis in a scientific environment.

HOW TO APPLYThe candidates are requested to send their applications to the following e-mail address: rekrutacja|ichf.edu.pl| |rekrutacja|ichf.edu.pl (e-mail title: Rekrutacja 34/2021) not later than 30th September 2021. The application should include the following information:

a. CV (up to 1 page), including educational background, list of scientific achievement (e.g. publications), contact details;

b. motivational letter (up to 1 page), indicating the number of the selected internship topic and explaining the reasons for the choice of this specific topic.

CAUTION:  The list of the proposed internship topics s is available below. Only one student for each topic will be selected. The monthly gross remuneration will be 1,000 PLN.

 

For more information see:

Announcement

Rules

Internship topics

1. Numerical simulation of electrolytes in alternating electric field

Internship description: In recent contribution (Richter, Żuk et al. 2020 Phys. Rev. Lett.) we investigated a thin film of electrolyte solution under the oscillatory (10Hz-500kHz) electric field. The stationary distribution of ions and electric potential, which formed on the time scale of minutes, led to surprising long range repulsive interactions. The electrodes repelled over the distance larger than micrometer.

We aim to understand this phenomenon in further detail to guide experimental research and and application. The approach, which we plan to take, has been successful in analyzing charging of nanopores under stationary electric field (Gupta, Żuk, Stone 2020 Phys. Rev. Lett.). It consists in applying theoretical models with reduced complexity (e.g., lubrication approximation, harmonic expansion) guided by the exact numerical solutions.

The student will be responsible for Numerical Simulation of Poisson-Nernst-Planck equations in simplified and realistic geometries using OpenFOAM library.  Poisson-Nernst-Planck equations describe the motion of ions in the electric field. They are at the core of batteries and capacitors, which are increasingly important part of our daily life. Solving the equations numerically gives an excellent occasion to experiment with physical systems and builds useful intuitions for more detailed analysis. Additionally, student will learn practically how to write simple programs using OpenFOAM (state of art open source library for solving Partial Differential Equations with Finite Volume Method), build simple and complex computational cases, run simulations and compare the results with theoretical predictions.

Requirements: The interested student is advised to have practical knowledge of computer programming (OpenFOAM is written in C++ and we will work with the source code), be familiar with linux operating system (most convenient environment for OpenFOAM), be familiar with command line interface (some computations will be scheduled on remote servers) and have at least basic experience with Partial Differential Equations.

 

Duration: The internship will take 6 months.

For any project related questions please contact dr Pawel Zuk: pzuk|ichf.edu.pl| |pzuk|ichf.edu.pl


 

2. Photoinduced electrochemiluminescence at photoanode

Internship description: Electrochemical luminescence (ECL) is when some species perform electron transfer reactions to undergo excited states with light emission. ECL is considered an advantageous method in analytical applications as a sensitive and selective technique. The excited state of a molecule is triggered by an initial electrochemical reaction occurring at very negative or positive potentials. Photoinduced electrochemiluminescence (PECL) on metal oxide semiconductor surface open the possibility of a considerable decrease in the potential required for light emission based on original light conversion schemes. Recently PECL of L-012 has been reported on BiVO4 surface at a potential as low as -0.4 V vs Ag/AgCl, which is significantly low in alkaline medium. It is assumed that concomitant photoelectrochemical processes, such as a local pH decrease caused by OH- consumption or H2O2 generation probably responsible for (PECL). Therefore, understanding the mechanism of (PECL) is the need of the hour to increase its further efficiency by modification of substrate or medium. To understand the mechanism, it is required to add some chemical that can trigger the photo-electrochemical reaction by efficient consumption of OH- ion on the surface of photocatalyst. Photocatalytic oxidation of H2O2 is comparatively easier in comparison to water. Hence, with an increase in H2O2 concentration, excessive OH- consumption is possible in a specific potential range.

Here we plan to exploit some photoanode like BiVO4 and/or Fe2O3 for PECL using different concentrations of H2O2 at various potential and light intensities. The proposed study will further open a way to understand the mechanism of H2O2 photocatalytic oxidation. Understanding the mechanism of H2O2 photocatalytic oxidation provides the possibility of photoanode structural engineering for efficient photocatalytic water splitting, which gives clean and renewable fuel.

 

Duration: The internship will take 6 months.

For any project related questions please contact dr Bhavana Gupta: pgupta|ichf.edu.pl| |pgupta|ichf.edu.pl


 

3. Soft granular clusters in microfluidic flow- fundamental properties and applications

Internship description: Clusters of strongly adhering and deformable droplets/grains/cells play a fundamental role in many technological and biological processes. So far, the behaviour of such media (called soft granular materials) under strong confinement has been poorly understood. Yet they are important in nature: for example, tumour cells seeking to establish secondary tumours frequently travel in the blood, and even traverse narrowings and obstacles, in clusters. We have successfully developed techniques to obtain and study biomimetic close-packed clusters of droplets using microfluidic systems and studied their behaviours in flow, discovering complex and irregular behaviours, depending on the flow regimes in which the clusters are produced.

A lot remains to be done both in terms of control of the production of clusters and investigating their behaviour in flow in various biologically-inspired set-ups. The successful candidate, depending on their experience and interests, will have the opportunity to participate in various steps of the research process, including the production and testing of microfluidic devices, experimental work and data analysis, and to influence the direction of research. They will be part of a diverse and productive research group working on the interface of physical and life sciences, with extensive experience in both fundamental and applied research in microfluidics and collaborators in Poland, UK, US and Italy. In case of long-term collaboration, moving to work with biological systems is also possible.

 

Duration: The project will take 6 months.

For any project related questions please contact dr Michał Bogdan: mbogdan|ichf.edu.pl| |mbogdan|ichf.edu.pl


 

4. Soft-electrosynthesis of alternative conducting polymers at electrified interfaces

Internship description: SOFT-ELECTROSYNTHESIS aims to develop an entirely novel platform technology with game-changing potential to produce high quality, large-scale (beyond cm2), free-floating thin films of pure conductive polymers (CPs), like PEDOT, in a single step and eliminate the use of surfactants or additives. The free-floating films can be transferred to any solid support for device fabrication. The large-scale production of uniformly high-quality CP thin films will be facilitated by the inherent defect-free nature of immiscible liquid-liquid interfaces. The ability to form thin films directly in a single step will eliminate the multi-step nature of creating films by chemical polymerisation and, thus, the requirement for surfactants during processing, e.g., PSS.

The student intern will work on modified EDOT monomers, e.g. hydroxymethyl-EDOT, using the parameters already established by the PD2PI fellow. The intern will investigate strategies to tune the morphology and other physical properties of the formed film (i.e. thickness, porosity). Such changes will correlate with changes on thin film characteristics designed for any target application like measured conductivity, specific capacitance, and redox cycling stability.

The PD2PI Fellow will train the student intern on the basics of electrochemistry and the laboratory procedures that is expected of it. This will include electrochemistry at immiscible liquid-liquid interfaces, which is the focus of the project. The student intern will also be exposed to mentoring relevant to the project (i.e. data analysis & presentation, scientific writing). Meanwhile, the PD2PI Fellow also hopes to learn from the student’s own academic and scientific background, when possible.

 

Duration: The proposed timeline is initially 3 months and will be extended to the maximum of 6 months, depending on the outcome of the 1st 3 months.

For any project related questions please contact dr Bren Felisilda: bfelisilda|ichf.edu.pl| |bfelisilda|ichf.edu.pl


 

5. Novel PEDOT:gelatin composites for construction of cell-laden organic electrochemical transistors

Internship description: Organ-on-a-chip is a rapidly developing field of research in which microfluidic technologies are employed towards automated and/or high-throughput encapsulation of cells and their culturing in well-defined 3D microenvironment, i.e., on a chip. In particular, droplet microfluidics utilizes nanoliter (or lower) aqueous or hydrogel droplets as cell carriers. Despite considerable progress in development of new methods of encapsulation, trapping and culturing of cell-laden droplets on-chip, there is still an immediate need to couple the microfluidic techniques with bioanalytical methods. In this project, we aim at developing methods of real-time electrochemical monitoring of single cells. For this purpose we will encapsulate cells in conductive, yet cell-friendly, hydrogel droplets, so-called “beads”.

The most commonly used conducting polymer is commercially available and stable in aqueous medium poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) doped with poly(styrene sulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS). It is a degenerately doped p-type organic semiconductor, in which hole transport takes place in the PEDOT phase. A layer of cardiomyocytes formed on such a conductive polymer based (PEDOT:PSS) planar organic electrochemical transistor (OECT) device allowing to measure electrical properties of the electrogenic cells has been described before. The cell layer on top of the OECT yielded rather low electrical signals resulting in low sensitivity. This was due to a problem of collection efficiency of the planar electrochemical/electronic assays – most of the target analyte have difficulties reaching the electrode to generate sufficient electrical signal to detect.

Recent work has described PEDOT:PSS and gelatin methacryloyl composite hydrogel in which muscle cells were successfully suspended instead of being grown at the OECT/electrolyte interface. The main issue encountered there was rather low content of conductive polymer resulting in low conductivity due to the biocompatibility issues. Interestingly, PSS has been recently exchanged to biocompatible (bio)polymers – glycosaminoglycans (GAG) such as hyaluronic acid, heparin, or chondroitin sulfate. Only little attention was given to utilize naturally occurring protein-based biopolymer – gelatin as a dopant for PEDOT.

Therefore, the aim of the internship is 1) optimization of the polymerization conditions of EDOT in presence of different molecular weight and types of gelatin to achieve highest conductivity while maintaining sufficient biocompatibility, 2) construction of a planar organic electrochemical transistor and its electrochemical/electronic characterization, 3) cell culture on top and inside of the constructed OECT and biocompatibility characterization.

 

Duration: The project will take 6 months.

For any project related questions please contact dr Marcin Filipiak: msfilipiak|ichf.edu.pl| |msfilipiak|ichf.edu.pl


 

6. Development of nanoelectrodes for single entity electrochemistry

Internship description: Single entity electrochemistry (SEE) refers to the study of charge transfer processes involving individual things (e.g. cells, nanoparticles, single molecules). Research in this area, which has largely been developed within the last decade, could elucidate how the individual properties of material differ from its bulk properties.

However, dedicated/bespoke equipment is often necessary for the measurement of highly sensitive SEE processes. For example, nanoelectrodes, which typically have a diameter of less than 100 nm, have unique properties which suit them towards SEE studies.

This project will be focused on the development and characterisation of nanoelectrodes for future SEE experiments. These electrodes will primarily be made of platinum, but the project will also feature work on other electrode materials, such as carbon and gold.

The student will employ several methods of preparing electrodes, including the electrochemical etching of microwires, pipette pulling, and also the micropolishing on abrasive materials. A comprehensive electrochemical characterisation of the nanoelectrodes and their properties will then be performed using techniques such as voltammetry, chronoamperommetry, electron microscopy, and impedance. Successful development of nanoelectrodes within the project timeline will allow for the student to perform some single entity measurements, such as redox cycling or nanoparticle impact.

 

Duration: The project will take 6 months.

For any project related questions please contact dr Steven Linfield: msfilipiak|ichf.edu.pl| |msfilipiak|ichf.edu.pl


 

7. Microfluidic System for Solar Energy Conversion

Internship description:  In recent years, a growing emphasis has been put on developing clean energy technologies and processes based on renewable energy sources. Solar power is the key to a clean energy future. The sun's energy can be captured to generate chemical or electrical energy via artificial systems that mimic natural photosynthesis. Nevertheless, an integrative challenge of solar-driven technology is transferring the light-fuelled chemical processes from a fundamental proof-of-principle to an exploitable industrial scale. Therefore, this project aims to engineer durable and versatile microfluidic devices that can be implemented with catalytic technologies for organic transformations and solar fuels production. Leading up to this capstone, the selected student will be involved in (i) physicochemical characterization of catalysts, (ii) performing chemical reaction, and (iii) optimization of microfluidic systems.

 

Duration: The project will take 6 months.

For any project related questions please contact dr Ewelina Kuna: ekuna|ichf.edu.pl| |ekuna|ichf.edu.pl


 

8. Facile synthesis of metal sulfide nanocrystals for electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution

Internship description: Energy crisis and environmental pollution are major concerns worldwide, and the development of renewable and sustainable sources of energy is the need of the hour. Molecular hydrogen shows great potential as an energy carrier as it is both carbon-free and environmentally friendly. Hydrogen evolution through electrocatalytic water-splitting is essential for the efficient and economical production of hydrogen, which relies on the development of inexpensive and highly active catalysts. Recently researchers focus on design of nanomaterials as catalyst for hydrogen evolution to replace noble metals. This project is a part of this research.

The project aims to synthesize transition metal (Co or Ni) sulfide nanocrystals under different reaction conditions and investigate the effect of synthetic conditions on electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution by water splitting. Experienced researchers will train the student for the synthesis of nanomaterials, their basic characterization techniques and studies of their electrocatalytic properties. The project will provide an excellent opportunity for students to enhance their skills in the area of inorganic chemistry, catalysis and electrochemistry and enrich their CV.

Interdisciplinary Field: Materials chemistry and electrochemistry

Requirements: Basic knowledge of inorganic chemistry, catalysis, and electrochemistry is desirable but not obligatory

 

Duration: The project will take 6 months.

For any project related questions please contact dr Malik Dilshad Khan: malikdilshad|ichf.edu.pl| |malikdilshad|ichf.edu.pl


 

9. The influence of bacterial interactions on growth heterogeneity and scMIC

Internship description: To fight increasing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in urinary tract infection (UTI) is crucial to understand bacterial cell-cell interactions, the influence of pathogen-pathogen and pathogen-nonpathogen interactions on disease development, and the role of species inhabiting the human urinary tract but not causing UTI.

The successful applicant will study how conditioned medium from one bacterial species affects single bacterial cell growth from second species. He or she will investigate how bacteria from different species inhabiting the urinary tract while infection influence each other's growth rate, division rate, etc. Depends on the student's performance, he or she will also test the effect of probiotic and/or nonpathogenic bacteria on the growth of pathogenic bacteria. In our experiments, we will use reference strains and clinical strains that have already been shown to contribute to the development of UTI or asymptomatic bacteriuria.

If time permits, the successful applicant will also be engaged in measuring the influence of conditioned media from one species with the addition of selective antibiotic concentration on the second species. He or she will measure single-cell Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (scMIC) and study the effect of conditioned medium and antibiotics on heterogeneity.

During internships, student will learn the techniques used in microbiology, microfluidics, and, if time permits, molecular biology. Therefore, we strongly invite to apply all students, especially ones possessing solid biological background.

 

Duration: the internship will start on January 2022 and will last for six months.

For any project related questions please contact dr Ilona P. Foik: ifoik|ichf.edu.pl| |ifoik|ichf.edu.pl


 

10. Growth and characterization of 2D film on 3D perovskite film using vapour technology.

Internship description:

Objective

3D Perovskites have proved to be excellent photovoltaic materials, owing to fast ambipolar charge transport, lower exciton binding energy, tunable band gap, strong light absorption in visible region, and long carrier lifetime. Also, these materials utilize the earth abundant elements and are low temperature solution processable. Power conversion efficiency for perovskite solar cells (PSCs) has increased by eight folds within less than 10 years from ~3 % in 2009 to over 25 % in 2021, comparable to first generation silicon-based solar cells. This makes PSCs a potential technology for replacing costly silicon solar cells. A critical bottleneck to the above prospects for PSCs is their rapid performance degradation when stored under ambient conditions.

One of the main reasons for extrinsic degradation of 3D perovskite is due to moisture. This moisture infiltrate into perovskite through surfaces. On the other hand, 2D perovskite are moisture stable but has poor optoelectronic properties, thus restricting its sole implementation as active layer. If 3D perovskite having shield of 2D perovskite, it will not only increase its stability but could give suitable band alignment for charge transport. So the objective of the proposal is to encapsulate 3D perovskite with 2D perovskite using vapour assisted technique, which will prevent degradation of 3D perovskite.

Methodology

1. After cleaning FTO, we will coat thin film of electron transport layer (ETL). We will coat the 3D perovskite on ETL layer. Various characterizations such as XRD, Absorbance, PL will be done to see the quality of film deposited as per the standard requirement. (Time Required: 2 months)

2. Now a close setup will be designed, where above film will be kept upside down and will be exposed to suitable vapour. The vapour should interact with 3D perovskite from all exposed side so that all exposed layer should convert to 2D perovskite. Using XRD, PL characterization of the film will be done. Further it has to be seen that it not hampers the charge transport property using PL. (Time required: 3-4 months)

Tangible outcome expected

  • If the results come as expected, then this can be integrated in perovskite solar cell to get required efficiency and stability.

 

Duration: The project will take 6 months.

For any project related questions please contact dr Rahul Ranjan via email adress: pniton|ichf.edu.pl| |pniton|ichf.edu.pl


 

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