Develop a microscale electronic nose for detecting plant diseases and preventing pests, to achieve food security.

Job description: Pests can have great impact on harvests and endanger food security worldwide. To increase the resilience of local food systems and prevent large-scale future shortages it is essential to detect the presence of malicious insects and plant diseases at a very early stage at low cost. This challenge is addressed in this project in which you will develop an electronic nose gas sensor to detect the olefactory signals that indicate the presence of bugs, fungi and or bacterial diseases.

By testing a range of new type of inkjetable gas-absorbing materials in combination with a recently developed highly sensitive CMOS readout chip, you will realize a sensitive and selective electronic nose that will be tested in the lab and in the field for its capability of early stage pest detection. Building understanding of the physics and chemistry involved in the sensing and sensor fabrication, as well as of the electronic readout related aspects will be integral to this PhD project.

This project operates on the frontiers of science to address an industrial need and will prepare you well for a career either in academia and industry.

Our multidisciplinary research team consists of members from both the 3mE faculty (PME department, DMN group) and the EEMCS faculty (Microelectronics department) of Delft University of Technology, and focusses on precision sensors, electronics and microsystems using new materials and inks. Our departments are well equipped with state-of-the-art fabrication facilities and equipment.


For this project we are looking for candidates that have:

  • An MSc. degree in physics, electrical engineering, material science, mechanical engineering, chemistry or equivalent
  • Interest to work on a multidisciplinary, societally relevant research topic
  • Knowledge of inkjet printing, electronics, surface characterization/functionalization or sensor fabrication/design/test is a plus
  • Interest in experimental research
  • Motivated to work in a team and a proactive attitude towards collaboration with industrial partners on a project with large societal relevance.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

The Faculty of 3mE carries out pioneering research, leading to new fundamental insights and challenging applications in the field of mechanical engineering. From large-scale energy storage, medical instruments, control technology and robotics to smart materials, nanoscale structures and autonomous ships. The foundations and results of this research are reflected in outstanding, contemporary education, inspiring students and PhD candidates to become socially engaged and responsible engineers and scientists.

The faculty of 3mE is a dynamic and innovative faculty with an international scope and high-tech lab facilities. Research and education focus on the design, manufacture, application and modification of products, materials, processes and mechanical devices, contributing to the development and growth of a sustainable society, as well as prosperity and welfare.

Additional information

For more information about the vacancy please contact Prof. Peter Steeneken,

Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply by 28 February 2023 via the application button and upload:

  • a cover letter stating your motivation;
  • detailed curriculum vitae (including a list of publications, if any);
  • names of up to three professional referees;
  • a summary of your MSc thesis;
  • list of courses and grades at Master and Bachelor level (in English).

For information about the application procedure, please contact Linda Verhaar, HR advisor,    

Please note:

  • A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.


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