Lund University, Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world’s top universities. The University has around 47 000 students and more than 8 800 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

Lund University welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We regard gender equality and diversity as a strength and an asset.

Land-living organisms face the challenge that the ambient air is much drier than what is found in a living cell. Thus, there is a driving force for water evaporation. Different strategies have emerged to counter this drying-out threat. In humans, the skin and the eyes are the only surfaces that are exposed to the dry air, and these surfaces are covered by self-assembled lipid/protein layers. Other examples of self-assembled evaporation barriers can be found in plants and in technical applications in, for example, formulations, paint and food.

The overall goal of this PhD project is to advance the basic understanding of non-equilibrium processes at drying interfaces in systems containing self-assembled molecules. This will be obtained through detailed characterization of  well-defined model systems composed of lipids and surfactants. In a second phase of the PhD project, the role of these mechanisms will be investigated in a more complex biological system, the tear film lipid layer on our eyes.  

Job description

The specific objectives of this PhD project are:

1) To increase the understanding of the fundamental mechanisms for what happens at a drying interfaces in self-assembled systems. We and others have previously shown that it is possible to create thin nanostructured lipid films at the drying air-water interface. In this project, the PhD student will investigate the underlying molecular mechanisms for this in well-defined model mixtures containing lipids and surfactants.  

2)  In the second phase of the project, the fundamental molecular mechanisms investigated in model systems will be explored in a  more complex biological system, the lipid tear film layer. The PhD student will study the formation of thin multilayer lipid film in multicomponent systems mimicking the tear lipid film, and investigate the relation between film formation and water evaporation at the drying interface, which may be related to the state of dry eyes in the biological system.

3) To increase the understanding of how abrupt changes in the environment influence structure and transport processes at the drying interface. This can be relevant for the tear lipid film under "blinking conditions".

The PhD project will be based on experimental studies of structure and composition gradients at drying interfaces. To address the scientific questions, we plan to use several state-of-the art methodologies, including X-rays scattering, IR, Raman, fluorescence and light microscopy, sorption microcalorimetry and NMR. Experiments will be combined with theoretical analysis of the same processes (solving diffusion equations).


You need a Master degree, or equivalent, with focus on physical chemistry, biophysical chemistry or equivalent, including advanced level courses in soft matter, surface- and colloid chemistry, biophysical chemistry or equivalent.


Documented experience of scientific experimental studies of self-assembled lipid or surfactant systems, and knowledge in one or several of the experimental methods mentioned above is an advantage. Documented excellent level of English (understanding, speaking, writing) is essential. Excellent communication and presentation skills are also essential. The candidate should have the ability to work in a team and collaborate with people from complementary disciplines.

Document to include with the application: A cover letter (up to one page) expressing a motivation for why you wish to perform a PhD education in physical chemistry at Lund University, and how the present research project matches your own research interests and scientific background.

Students with basic eligibility for third-cycle studies are those who- have completed a second-cycle degree- have completed courses of at least 240 credits, of which at least 60 credits are from second-cycle courses, or- have acquired largely equivalent knowledge in some other way, in Sweden or abroad.

The employment of doctoral students is regulated in the Swedish Code of Statues 1998: 80. Only those who are or have been admitted to PhD-studies may be appointed to doctoral studentships. When an appointment to a doctoral studentship is made, the ability of the student to benefit from PhD-studies shall primarily be taken into account. In addition to devoting themselves to their studies, those appointed to doctoral studentships may be required to work with educational tasks, research and administration, in accordance with specific regulations in the ordinance.

Type of employment
Limit of tenure, four years according to HF 5 kap 7§.


Type of employment Temporary position
First day of employment As soon as possible
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100
City Lund
County Skåne län
Country Sweden
Reference number PA2021/370
  • Emma Sparr, +46462221536
Union representative
  • OFR/ST:Fackförbundet ST:s kansli, 046-222 93 62
  • SACO:Saco-s-rådet vid Lunds universitet, 046-222 93 64
Published 18.Feb.2021
Last application date 18.Mar.2021 11:59 PM CET

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