Postdoctoral Researcher on Microplastics and Nanoplastics Analytics

Job description


Plastic is considered one of the most important inventions of the 20th century, providing us with a range of very practical materials. However, due to the mismanaged waste the plastic pollution is ubiquitous and pervasive that it has become a threat to the environment and human health. The slowly degrading/fragmenting plastic debris forms a highly heterogeneous group of particles with different sizes (i.e., from centimeter over millimeter and micrometer to nanometer scale), shapes, densities, and chemical compositions. Detection, quantification and source identification of low-micrometre range microplastics (MPs, 1-10µm) and nanoplastics (NPs, 1-1000nm) in different matrices is still one of the biggest challenges that is of great interest to a broad spectrum of industrial and environmental applications. The continuous technological improvements in analytical instruments have ignited new analytical ideas and pathways to assess and explore several key characteristics, such as concentration, composition, particle size, shape and other surface characteristics.


The characterization of micro- and nanoplastics represents a new analytical growth pillar embedded within the Specialized Organic and Inorganic Analysis Laboratory (team GOAL). The goal of this project is to open up new frontiers regarding characterization of non-metallic micro- and nanoparticles (1nm-20µm). The achievement of these goals will require a wide set of complementary tools such as analytical and instrumental chemistry, physics and nanometrology. The laboratory has a wide experience in developing R&D projects and can deploy a wide range of complementary analytical techniques. GOAL hosts advanced analytical instrumentation including gas chromatograph (GC) linked to a high-resolution time-of-flight mass spectrometers (GC-TOF-MS) in addition to more standard GC/MS and LC/MSMS systems. Nanomaterial detection platform comprising size distribution (NTA, DLS, CPS), zeta potential, UV-Vis spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, (single-particle) ICP-MS, ICP-AES, size exclusion chromatography, field flow fractionation coupled on-line or off-line with light scattering (multi-angle classical light scattering and dynamic light scattering), UV or fluorescence detectors and ICP-MS, S(T)EM, FTIR, µXRF, and (particle-free) test chambers. GOAL laboratory also include sample preparation equipment such as microwave and ultrasound equipment.

We are looking for a highly motivated postdoctoral researcher for 4 year postdoctoral position to work on microplastics and nanoplastics analytics.


  • Development of new analytical methods for microplastics and nanoplastics analysis.
  • Writing reports for related HE projects, preparation of scientific articles, and presentation of results in group meetings and conferences.
  • Maintenance of laboratory equipment (e.g., FFF-UV/VIS-MALS-ICPMS, spICP-MS)
  • Complete documentation of research results.

Job requirements

  • Highly motivated candidate with a background (PhD) in Analytical Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, Nanometrology.
  • Experience in the development of analytical methods for microplastics and nanoparticles analysis (e.g., µFTIR, Pyr-GC-MS, spICP-MS, size separation techniques like FFF-UV/VIS-MALS).
  • Excellent (academic) writing, organizational and time management skills.
  • You are communicative and can express yourself fluently in English (written and spoken).
  • A strong team player, and able to work within a collaborative setting with others to set clear priorities while managing multiple timelines and objectives.
  • Knowledge of programming (Matlab, Python) and statistical analysis (SPSS, R, etc.) are an add on.


  • You will be part of an organization where we show integrity and always strive for mutual benefit in close cooperation with all parties involved.
  • VITO is an international organisation: 40 different nationalities work with us.
  • You will learn life-long and develop your skills further by using the newest of the state-of-the-art analytical techniques.
  • We consider work-life balance to be of paramount importance at VITO. We are open to discuss your needs at any time and we have a flexible approach to finding solutions.