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Up Directory CCL 18.04.19 PhD position: (unusual) surfactants at (unusual) liquid interfaces: insights from molecular dynamics simulations [Berlin, Germany]
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Date: Thu Apr 19 07:03:31 2018
Subject: 18.04.19 PhD position: (unusual) surfactants at (unusual) liquid interfaces: insights from molecular dynamics simulations [Berlin, Germany]
Surfactants are molecules with high affinity for interfaces, thus lowering the interfacial tension. They 
are composed of functional groups with different properties (e.g., polar and non-polar), so they 
preferentially adsorb to the interface between two media, e.g., water and oil.

In this project you will use atomistic and coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations to address 
outstanding questions about the molecular scale behavior of surfactants at liquid interfaces. The 
results will be relevant to understand the stability of emulsions, the kinetics of interfacial reactions, 
the digestion of fats, and the stability of cell organelles. Strong connection with experiments will be 
ensured by tensiometry and x-ray/neutron scattering experiments performed in the group of Emanuel 
Schneck, also at the MPIKG.

The following important questions will be addressed:
i) What is the relation between the lateral density, the molecular conformations of surfactant 
molecules at the oil/water interface, and the interfacial tension?
ii) Charged surfactants adsorb at nanodroplets of oil in water at much lower lateral densities than at 
flat interfaces. How do surface coverage, surface tension, and molecular conformations change as a 
function of the salt concentration and droplet curvature?
iii) Fluorinated oils (F-oils) are of great technological interest because they are omniphobic, repelling 
both non-fluorinated oils and water, and are chemically inert. Because they dissolve large amounts of 
gases, emulsions of F-oils are used in cosmetics and as artificial blood substitutes, directly interacting 
with cell membranes. What is the relation between the lateral density, the molecular conformations of
 surfactant molecules at the F-oil/water interface, and the interfacial tension? How does this relation 
differ for fluorinated and non-fluorinated surfactants? What are the energetic barriers for fluorinated 
molecules (F-oil or F-surfactants) to cross or mix with phospholipid bilayers?

Required background: You should have experience in molecular dynamics simulations using classical 
force fields. A good knowledge of statistical physics and some experience using continuum, 
analytical models are a plus.

Location: the work will take place at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, in Potsdam 
(near Berlin), Germany, in the group of Dr. Ana Vila Verde, 
http://www.mpikg.mpg.de/en/soft-matter-simulations
and in collaboration with Dr. Emanuel Schneck. 


The project duration is 36 months; salary according to the standard TVoD contract for PhD students.
Please apply at https://imprs.mpikg.mpg.de/application  before May 11 2018.
Applications sent by email, as well as incomplete or late applications, will not be considered. 
The applicants may contact Dr. Ana Vila Verde directly for further information.
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Modified: Thu Apr 19 11:03:31 2018 GMT
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