PhD position in characterization and quantitation of nanoplastics in environmental samples [closing 17May2021]

Страна: Нидерланды;

Город: Amsterdam

Добавлена: 10.04.2021

Работодатель: University of Amsterdam

Тип: PhD position;

Для кого: For researchers;


The  Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences is looking for a PhD candidate for the characterization and quantitation of nanoplastics in environmental samples.

In recent years, the scientific focus has shifted from analysing visible plastic particles to detecting microscopic plastic particles, typically using spectroscopic (microscopy‐FTIR or ‐Raman) or thermal degradation analyses (e.g.pyr‐GCMS). Up to now, the efforts have been focused most often on particle sizes above 1 μm. The analytical complexity to identify and monitor nano/microplastics (NMPs) in environmental matrices, increases with decreasing size. This explains why attention has mostly focused on particle sizes much above the 1 μm size range. As a consequence, there is still no consensus regarding methodology for sampling and identifying plastic particles in the nanometric range in complex aqueous matrices, nor are there yet environmental occurrence data available for nanoplastics. This lack of consensus is also caused by the fact that different groups have been investigating and proposing different methods with different size thresholds, which hinders comparison between results and, ultimately, limits progress in this field.

The main goal of this project is to develop an analytical toolbox for detailed analysis of NMPs down to a size of 50 nm using chemical digestion & analysis for samples from municipal and industrial wastewaters and sluge/sediment, surface waters and sediment, groundwater and drinking‐water samples to support and risk exposure assessment studies and substance flow analysis modelling. The PhD candidate will optimize and combine different sample preparation and chemical treatment, field-flow fractionation, and mass spectrometry methods. NMPs of different shapes (fibres, spheres) and diverse chemistries (including fluoropolymers) with a focus on the nanosized plastics will be the focus of this work. For method development, reference materials of plastics in the nanosize range produced within the project (labelled materials) or at collaborators (e.g. Wetsus, Avantium BASF) will be used. The developed methods will be applied to the analysis of real samples (e.g environmental and (sea)food related).

What are you going to do?

You are expected to:

  • participate in the fundamental and/or applied research of our analytical-chemistry group, in close collaboration with IBEDs' environmental toxicology and HIMS' Industrial Sustainable Chemistry group;
  • develop fit-for-purpose sampling and sample treatment procedures for the efficient extraction of NMPs;
  • optimize a series of mass spectrometry and field‐flow fractionation‐based methods to detect, quantify and characterize of nano/microplastics (NMPs) including the smallest size fractions (< 1μm, down to 50 nm), which have so far been mostly ignored;
  • monitor exposure to NMPs through the water cycle and in drinking water;
  • publish and present your work within the project and on international scientific platforms;
  • contribute to the teaching activities of the department.
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