Postdoctoral researcher in Characterisation in Catalysis: Faculty of Science – Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences. The Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) is one of eight institutes of the University of Amsterdam Faculty of Science. HIMS performs internationally recognized chemistry and molecular research, curiosity driven as well as application driven. This is done in close cooperation with the chemical, flavour & food, medical and high-tech industries. Research is organised into four themes: Sustainable Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Computational Chemistry and Molecular Photonics.

The Characterisation in Catalysis group is part of the Sustainable Chemistry research priority area. The group focusses on the development of advanced characterisation techniques, with a focus on X-rays, as tools in catalysis and materials sciences. Moniek Tromp has recently been awarded a NWO VIDI fellowship ‘The active site in the spotlight!’ and we are currently seeking one PhD candidate and one Postdoctoral researcher to join the research group.

Project description

To understand the performance of homogeneous catalysts and optimise their processes, insights in the detailed function of the different catalyst components and their reaction mechanisms are required. We therefore want to develop new X-ray spectroscopy techniques and methodologies in order to obtain a full movie on the working catalyst in time. Preferred catalysts are based on 3d transition metals, because of their sustainable nature: They are more abundant, cheaper and (in general) less toxic. Characterisation of and mechanistic studies on 3d transition metals are very challenging due to

  1. a multitude of oxidation states and/or paramagnetism, (ii) high reaction rates and
  2. aggregration to multimetallic assemblies, etc. X-ray spectroscopy techniques allow structural and electronic information on the homogeneous catalyst to be obtained. Whereas much focus has been so far on characterisation of the metal site (using high energy X-rays), here, we will extend this to the ligand and substrates (using low and high energy X-rays).

The postdoctoral researcher will be in charge of the further development, incl. bench marking and data analysis, of different low and high energy X-ray techniques and instrumentation to characterise the homogeneous catalysts in situ and operando. She/he will be involved in the design, construction and commissioning of a lab based X-ray spectrometer. Whereas the two PhD candidates in the project will focus on different catalytic systems and problems (e.g. selective oligomerisation and cross couplings reactions), the researcher will work with them on the development of fast time resolved spectroscopy methodologies. All three will work very closely together towards cell designs, methodologies and catalysis and together as a team on synchrotron beamtime applications. In addition to homogeneous catalysis, photocatalytic projects are foreseen.


A PhD degree in a relevant field such as chemistry, physical chemistry, or physics is required. Knowledge on homogeneous or photo-catalysis, (X-ray) spectroscopy methods and theoretical approaches is an advantage. Ability to collaborate and adapt in an international team is required. Candidates must possess good communication skills in oral and written English. Candidates must also be willing to travel regularly to large research facilities were X-ray experiments will be executed (in day- and night-shifts).

Level of education: PhD
Salary indication: €2,476 to €3,908 gross per month
Closing date: 10 August 2015
Hours: 38 hours per week
Vacancy number: 15-263

Further information

 For further information, please contact/see:


Positions are available starting from 1 September 2015. A later starting date (up to 1 November 2015) is also possible.

The full-time appointment will be on a temporary basis, initially for one year with an extension for a further two years on positive evaluation. Depending on experience, the gross monthly salarywill range from €2,476 to €3,908 (scale 10), excl. 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end of year bonus. The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities is applicable.

Job application

Due to limitations in recruitment budget we will only consider candidates that are currently in Europe.

To save paper, time, and the environment, applications and responses will be sent by email only. Applications should consist of a single PDF file (not zipped) and should contain:

  • a curriculum vita;
  • a list of publications;
  • a motivation letter explaining why you chose to apply for this position, and
  • the name and contact details (including email address) of two academic referees.

Please email your application to, quoting job reference number 15-263 in the subject line.

Applications will be accepted until 10 August 2015.

Apply now

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