ETH Zürich

PhD Position in Self-assembled Colloidal Micromachines

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ETH Zürich is well known for its excellent education, ground-breaking fundamental research and for implementing its results directly into practice.

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PhD Position in Self-assembled Colloidal Micromachines

We welcome applications for a PhD position in the field of interface and colloids science. The position will be based in the Multi-Scale Robotics Lab in the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. The 4-year project is part of an Ambizione grant funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The successful candidate will work directly under the supervision of the Ambizione grantee, Dr. Minghan Hu.

Project background

Artificial intelligence enables robotic machines to autonomously adapt to their surroundings and perform complex tasks. Unlike large machines, micro- and nanomachines cannot host bulky computational units to generate intelligence. The intelligence of small-scale machines, including sensing, control and adaptation, can only stem from their physical bodies through various responsive mechanisms. Despite growing efforts in this field, encoding diverse types of intelligence into micromachines is still essentially unexplored.

In this project, we aim to develop a toolbox-like assembly strategy to build intelligent micromachines with multiple responsiveness. The expected output of this project will address fundamental questions in robotics as well as advance the development of intelligent micromachines for complex biomedical and environmental applications.

This project will be conducted under Dr. Minghan Hu’s supervision and based in the laboratory of Prof. Bradley Nelson and Prof. Salvador Pane at ETH Zurich. The biomedical application of micromachines will be conducted in close collaboration with Prof. David Mooney’s lab at Harvard University.

Job description

Your tasks will involve:

  • Synthesis and functionalization of nano-colloids using miniemulsion technique
  • Develop different self-assembly methods towards assembled colloidal micromachines
  • Perform complex biomedical and environmental tasks with customized micromachines
  • Disseminate scientific results in international conferences and peer-reviewed journals

We offer a full-time position for the duration of your 4-year doctoral studies starting immediately or upon mutual agreement. You will work in an interdisciplinary team of researchers with strong expertise in polymers, colloids and microrobotics. Furthermore, you will collaborate with well-known researchers spanning from Switzerland, Germany to USA. Throughout the project there will be mentoring opportunities, including bachelor and master students’ projects and theses. You will actively participate in group and institute duties and activities. As an integral part of your work, you will publish your results in peer-reviewed journals and present them at (inter)national conferences.


You have:

  • A master’s degree in chemistry, materials science or related disciplines from a recognized university
  • An excellent track record and meet the general admission requirements for a doctorate at ETH Zurich
  • Prior experience in responsive polymeric systems, ideally, with nano-colloids
  • Good knowledge of interfaces and colloid science, e.g. emulsion, self-assembly
  • Know-how in microfluidic synthesis systems is an advantage
  • Curiosity, open-mindedness, and good communication skills
  • Proficient oral and written English skills

We offer

You will embark on your PhD project in a thriving, collaborative, and multidisciplinary research group. ETH Zurich is an employer with excellent working conditions. You can look forward to an exciting working environment, cultural diversity, and attractive offers and benefits together with world-leading infrastructure and facilities.

Here you can find more information about working, teaching, and research at ETH Zurich.

Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich

We value diversity

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Copies of BSc and MSc educational records
  • Motivation letter with research statement (1 page)
  • Names and contact details of two references

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Further information about the Initute for Robotics can be found on our website. Questions regarding the position should be directed to  Dr. Minghan Hu (

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

Job details

PhD Position in Self-assembled Colloidal Micromachines
Rämistrasse 101 Zurich, Switzerland
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ETH Zürich is well known for its excellent education, ground-breaking fundamental research and for implementing its results directly into practice.

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