KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Postdoctoral position (scholarship) in NMR Spectroscopic Window to Cellulose Molecular Organization

KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Stockholm, Sweden

KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm has grown to become one of Europe’s leading technical and engineering universities, as well as a key centre of intellectual talent and innovation. We are Sweden’s largest technical research and learning institution and home to students, researchers and faculty from around the world. Our research and education covers a wide area including natural sciences and all branches of engineering, as well as architecture, industrial management, urban planning, history and philosophy.

About the workplace

Wallenberg Wood Science Center (WWSC) is a research center which started in 2009 and is funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation. WWSC is a multidisciplinary collaboration between Chalmers, KTH and Linköping University striving for scientific excellence, and the overall aim is to develop new materials from trees. The mission of the center is to create knowledge and competence as a basis for eco-friendly materials for the future.

Project description

Wood cell wall is a composite material prepared by nature from cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, and the oft-forgotten water. It has deceptively simple molecular building blocks, such as sugars units arranged in polymers for its two carbohydrate components. Yet, despite this apparent simplicity we still cannot grasp how can the cell wall grow (literally, from thin air) so that it permits redwoods standing 120 m tall. The main goal with this project is to understand more the hierarchical organization. Already the components alone are far from simple. For example, pure cellulose fibril is an aggregate of nanofibrils within which chains of β(1→4) linked D-glucose units are arranged in a semi-crystalline manner – besides that and the approximate sizes, there is little agreement about anything else. One reason for that apparent discordance is that our experimental methods cannot, alone or even in combination, cope with the molecular complexity. The main project idea is to exploit molecular dynamics (MD) simulations so that the observed distributions of molecular properties in the system can be properly assigned to structurally distinct sugars. With that done, one can in a further step study how various parts of the system react to changing conditions like moisture or the presence of other macromolecular components. Our preliminary results are very promising, see Biomacromolecules 19, 2567 (2018) and Macromolecules 52, 7278 (2019).

The postdoctoral fellow will be part of a larger collaborative team involving senior researchers, PhD students, and other postdoctoral fellows. While member of a collective effort, he/she will be independent yet in synergy with and mutual support for other members. The main responsibility of the postdoctoral fellow will be to contribute experimentally to the project be performing experiments in judiciously selected cellulose and hemicellulose samples, as well as in their composites, and all that at well controlled levels of humidity. One of the methods to exploit will be solid-state NMR spectroscopy and NMR spin relaxation (and possibly self-diffusion) experiments. Their main advantage arises from the chemical resolution conveyed by NMR spectra and from isotope selectivity. The other tool will be assorted scattering experiments providing complementary structural and dynamic information.


Applicants should have a PhD degree in a subject relevant for the research, such as chemistry or physics, but with a PhD project and previous experience closely connected to the project areas as defined above. That degree must have been completed no more than three years before the last application date (exceptions can be given on special grounds, for instance sick leave and parental leave).

We are looking for highly motivated candidates who can contribute with own ideas and who can take part both independently and in a group. A lot of emphasis will be placed on personal competence and suitability.

Preferred qualifications

In general, good laboratory/instrumental skills, good communication skills in English, an analytical mind and a solid academic track record as demonstrated by a good publication performance are considered as important merits. Proven experience with solid state NMR spectroscopy and/or NMR relaxation experiments are a particularly important merit while experience with scattering methods and other relevant spectroscopic is also important.


Apply to this scholarship by e-mail to egrehn@kth.se. You are the main responsible to ensure that your application is complete according to the ad. Your complete application must be received at KTH no later than 2020-01-31. Mark your application with reference number C-2019-2494.

The application must include the following documents:
•Curriculum vitae
•Digital copy of doctoral degree
•Cover letter (detailing both your previous scientific work experience and your interest in this position)
•Research statement (max 2 pages)
•Contact information for references or references enclosed reference letters

Please observe that you apply for a scholarship, not an employment.

About the position

Period: One year with possibility for extension for another year (maximum 2 years)

Extent: Full-time

Starting date: As soon as possible/according to agreements

Amount of scholarship: 30 000 SEK/month

Contact: Prof. István Furó, furo@kth.se, +46 87908592
Dr. Jakob Wohlert, jacke@kth.se

We firmly decline all contact with staffing and recruitment agencies and job ad salespersons.

Apply with CV and Cover Letter

Must be a .doc, .docx, or .pdf file and no larger than 1MBMust be a .doc, .docx, or .pdf file and no larger than 1MB

Postdoctoral position (scholarship) in NMR Spectroscopic Window to Cellulose Molecular Organization