Research grant for MSc student available at CICECO - Aveiro Institute of Materials (Portugal) to study water in nanocavities of dipeptides by SSNMR

A one-year research grant is available for scientists who currently hold a Master degree in Chemistry/ Biochemistry/Physics/Biosphysics or related discipline at CICECO – Aveiro Institute of Materials, University of Aveiro.
CICECO is a top materials science institute in Portugal and a leading research center in Europe in the area of materials. Our mission is developing the scientific and technological knowledge necessary for the innovative production and transformation of materials for a sustainable development and the benefit of society (from ceramics to soft matter and hybrids). For facts and figures visit

Research field: Physical Chemistry of Physics

Admission requirements: The applicant should have Master’s degree in biochemistry, chemistry or a related biophysics field with hands-on experience in NMR spectroscopy preferably applied to peptides or soft materials. Knowledge of other analytical techniques (e.g., IR, Raman) as well as understanding of surface and materials chemistry, including intermolecular interactions is highly desirable. Demonstrated experience by publications in peer-reviewed journals is an advantage.

Activity Outline: The candidate will mostly perform 2H solid-state NMR based-techniques to study the rotational motion of water in nanocavities of dipeptides in a wide range of temperatures to get insight into the water-sensitive structural transformations in these materials.

The project focus on NMR studies of the temperature-dependent dynamics of confined water in self-assembled nanotubes based on diphenylalanine. The assembled structure of diphenylalanine nanotubes consist of alternating dipeptide monomers and water cores inside of extended hexagonal cavity. Water molecules play an important role in the formation of the self-assembled structure of the dipeptide, therefore, they have a direct effect on the crystal structure. However, the role of water molecules is not only in the formation of self-assembled structure of dipeptides. They directly determine their polar properties and nanoconfinement effect is known to significantly modify the water dynamics. Study of the water confined in dipeptide nanocavities is of great interest because it directly determines the functionality of proteins and amino acids in the human organisms. The present investigation of the water behavior in self-assembled dipeptides in which the hydrophobic interactions can significantly modify the water dynamics is of immense importance for the understanding of mechanisms governing the water interaction with amino acids, peptides and proteins.

Value of monthly maintenance allowance: 980,00 Euros/month (tax free) according to the official table for Research Grants from FCT -, to be paid monthly via bank transfer.


Documents Required: i) Motivation letter; ii) Curriculum Vitae, dated and signed, including a description of previous activities in scientific projects; iii) Copy of identity card or passport; iv) Degree certificates.

Deadline for applications: 20 of January 2018. The position will remain open until filled. The candidates will be informed about the results by email.

Applications should be sent by email to Dr. Luís Mafra ( and Dr. Svitlana Kopyl (