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Diamond-based platforms for biochemical measurements of time-resolved clock cell signaling in response to external zeitgebers and coupling factors

   Graduate School Multiscale Clocks

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  Prof Cyril Popov  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The RTG Multiscale Clocks aims at investigating the principles of timekeeping in living organisms, enabling to orchestrate periodic processes with very different frequencies ranging from infradian over circadian to ultradian rhythms. The unique approach is to combine the expertise of biologists, physicists, chemists, mathematicians, and engineers to advance the understanding of biological clocks.

In this project (N°. 6) the candidate will work on the development of new tools and assays based on thin ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) films for investigation of clock neuron signaling in response to rhythmic external Zeitgebers or coupling factors for selected model organisms. UNCD films will be deposited by microwave plasma chemical vapor deposition. Their surface will be modified by plasma or photochemical processes. The surface termination will be patterned in highly hydrophobic or hydrophilic areas to guide the attachment of circadian pacemaker neurons. Additionally, UNCD surfaces will be applied as basis for biosensors, functionalized with antibodies against neurotransmitters or neuropeptides (PDF). Before biofunctionalization, the UNCD will be nanostructured by reactive ion etching to increase the area for interactions with antibodies. Fundamental protocols for immobilization of proteins, including highly specific and high-affinity antigen binding proteins on UNCD will be established. The success of the covalent bonding will be evaluated by confocal laser scanning microscopy and quantified with a microplate reader in matrix-scan-mode. Different signaling strategies including sandwich or competitive ELISA with fluorophore-conjugated antibodies will be implemented. The developed UNCD-based platforms will be applied to study PDF release as coupling factors of multiscale rhythms in Madeira cockroach and in tardigrades.


- Deposition, surface modification, nano-structuring, bio-functionalization and characterization of ultra-nanocrystalline diamond films.

- Fabrication of platforms based on ultra-nanocrystalline diamond films for long-term cultivation of neurons and analysis of coupling factors released by clock neurons in cooperation with other groups from RTG.

- Active participation in the workshops and events of the RTG and collaboration with the PIs and other PhD candidates.

- Completion of a study program according to the curriculum of the graduate school.

Required Profile:

- With excellent mark completed academic interdisciplinary MSc degree (or equivalent) in Nanoscience, Nanostructure Sciences, Biophysics, Materials Science, or similar fields combining knowledge in physics, chemistry and biology.

- Commitment to interdisciplinary research and education.

- Strong skills in English.

- Advantageous are experiences thematically related to the scope of the RTG.

The University of Kassel is a midsize university with about 25.000 students, located in the city of Kassel, known for the DOCUMENTA, the most important international exhibition of contemporary art. The university is dedicated to interdisciplinary research, and it offers educational programs in the life sciences, humanities, fine arts, social sciences, education, and engineering. The university also offers different employment benefits, such as free public transport and no tuition. Furthermore, housing in Kassel is affordable.

Please send your application with the usual informative documents, stating the reference number in the subject line, via the online form.

Include the Extra Application Form.

Funding Notes

The University of Kassel establishes the interdisciplinary Research Training Group (RTG) “Biological Clocks on Multiple Time Scales”, which is funded by the German Research foundation from April 2022 on. The positions according to the pay scale EG 13 TV-H modified according to the requirements of the different disciplines are limited to 36 months.
- Date of Hire: 01 Apr 2022


Voss, A., Wei, H., Zhang, Y., Turner, S., Ceccone, G., Reithmaier, J. P., Stengl, M., & Popov, C. (2016). Strong attachment of circadian pacemaker neurons on modified ultrananocrystalline diamond surfaces. Materials Science and Engineering: C Materials for Biological Applications, 64, 278–285.
Voss, A., Stateva, S. R., Reithmaier, J. P., Apostolova, M. D., & Popov, C. (2017). Patterning of the surface termination of ultrananocrystalline diamond films for guided cell attachment and growth. Surface and Coatings Technology, 321, 229–235.
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