Fundamentals of energy storage in electrochemically active biofilms

The Institute of Environmental and Sustainable Chemistry, TU Braunschweig, Germany, is looking for an excellent Phd student to support our interdisciplinary research project “Fundamentals of canode biofilm electro-metabolism”.

Microbial electrogenesis – the electricity production from organic compounds such as those found in wastes or marine sediments – and microbial electrosynthesis – the reduction of CO2 into organic energy storage molecules, are two prime application goals for microbial electrochemical technologies. Recent findings by the team of Dr. Leonard Tender from the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC illustrate the possibility of combining electrotrophy and electrogenesis in one, switchable electrode-grown biofilm denoted as canode biofilm (cathode/anode). The canode opens new ways to combine bioelectrochemical energy storage and power generation in a single device.

But what are the mechanisms of the underlying metabolic processes, and how is the electrotrophic and electrogenic metabolism coupled with the extracellular electron transfer that connects cellular processes with the electrode? Single investigation methods, such as voltammetry or spectroscopy alone, will not allow achieve sufficient information depth. Only by combining these methods (so-called hyphenated techniques) to probe real-times changes in molecular signatures of the canode, as it switched for energy storage to power generation modes, can information down to molecular reaction mechanisms be gained. In this research project – which is carried out in collaboration with the group of Dr. Leonard Tender – we take a further step. We combine a set of state of the art hyphenated techniques in order to close this knowledge gap and acquire fundamental understanding on the thermodynamics, mechanisms and kinetics of the energy conversion and metabolism in canode biofilms.

The starting date is October 1, 2020. The employment will be arranged by the administration of the TU Braunschweig (salary TVL E13/50%, including health insurance, 3 years contract).

Applications: should be sent by e-mail to Uwe Schröder (, and must contain the following documents.

Motivation Letter including contact information for two references
Curriculum Vitae including complete address, phone number, email address, educational background, language skills, and work experience
Copies of diploma and transcript of grades in original language and in English or German translation
Additional documents should be provided on request
All documents should be in PDF format, preferably in a single file. Personal data and documents relating to the application process will be stored electronically. Please note that application costs cannot be refunded.

Institution contact information

Prof. Uwe Schröder, Institute of Environmental and Sustainable Chemistry, TU Braunschweig

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PhD position in bioelectrochemical enrichment of metals

The University of Bremen is offering (under the condition of job release) at the earliest possible date:

Ph.D. position in bioelectrochemical enrichment of metals
Salary group 13 TV-L (75 %), 36 months

in an interdisciplinary project at the interface of microbiology, electrochemistry and material sciences. The motivation of this PhD project is the search for new technological approaches for the extraterrestrial fabrication of metal alloys under tough environmental constraints, in particular the limitation of utilizing mineral and energy resources available in situ on Mars or Moon. More specifically, the project aims at exploring bio-based possibilities to extract iron species from regolith and enrich them as purified iron compounds. These compounds are then used in steel-making processes based on non-conventional metallurgy. In this sub project, microbial electrochemical technologies such as microbial fuel cells (MFCs) and microbial electrolysis cells (MECs) will be used for enhanced production and selective recovery of metal ion species. Microbial communities developing in MFCs will be characterized using state-of-the-art tools such as high-throughput sequencing, metagenomics and metatranscriptomics.

Within the new research initiative in close collaboration with the Hochschule Bremen (HSB), Ph.D. students are supervised by a team of experienced scientists ranging from electrochemistry, material sciences to microbiology and biomimetics. Additional training and support are offered by international graduate Programmes within the MAPEX Center for Materials and Processes, the MarMic Graduate School and the Biomimetic-Innovation-Centre (HSB). These offers include expert as well as skills and methods courses, coaching, networking opportunities, and the opportunity to compete for internal funds. Ph.D. students have the opportunity to acquire expert knowledge in their field and a solid background across many disciplines involved in the interdisciplinary project.

Specific tasks will include:
1. Setting up and running novel microbial electrochemical enrichments
2. Characterization of metal ions and solid metal compounds by chemical and spectroscopic methods
3. Extraction and analysis of nucleic acids from bioreactor samples
4. Investigation and optimization of conversion efficiency and energy demands
5. Bioinformatic and statistical analysis of data
6. Opportunity for scientific qualification in the context of a PhD degree

Your profile:
• A completed MSc or diploma degree in Microbiology, Biochemistry, Electrochemistry, Material Sciences or a comparable program
• Interest in interdisciplinary research
• Interest in developing new methods for microbial fuel cell technology
• Skills in (bio)informatics would be advantageous
• Working in teams, visiting collaboration partners

The goal of the MAPEX is the system-oriented research and development of materials and processes for sustainable transport and energy applications. The centre merges the know-how of more than 1000 scientific and technical staff, 480 of which are doctoral candidates, active in the fields of natural and engineering sciences as well as mathematics and aiming at a thorough understanding of the process-properties-performance relationships in materials.
MarMic is the International Max-Planck-Research School (IMPRS) with a focus on marine microbiology at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology. Since its foundation in 2005 the Biomimetics-Innovation-Centre at the Hochschule Bremen has been coordinating research activities in the fields of fundamental interdisciplinary research and development.

The University of Bremen follows a diversity strategy. It strives to increase the number of women in the academy and strongly encourages applications from suitably qualified female candidates. International applications and applications of academics with a migration background are explicitly welcome. Disabled persons with the same professional and personal qualifications will be given preference. The employment is fixed-term and governed by the Act of Academic Fixed-Term Contract, §2 I (Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz – WissZeitVG). Therefore, candidates may only be considered for appointment if they still have the respective qualification periods available in accordance with § 2 (1) WissZeitVG.

Institution contact information

Information regarding the open PhD position can be obtained by contacting Sven Kerzenmacher (Bioelectrochemistry;, Michael Friedrich (Microbiology; and Jan-Henning Dirks (Biomimetics;

We look forward to receiving your e-mail application in English including CV, letter of motivation, and reference contacts!



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PhD position on electron conduction in cable bacteria

Cable bacteria are filamentous bacteria that can conduct electrons across centimetre-scale distances and thereby metabolize distantly located electron donors and acceptors in aquatic sediment. The DNRF Center for Electromicrobiology at Aarhus University is looking for a motivated and talented PhD student to investigate how cable bacteria and their electron conductors work, based on the numerous options and challenges that this exceptional scale of biological electron transport poses for experimental studies.

Institution contact information

Department of Biology, Ny Munkegade 114-116, Aarhus C, Denmark.

Contact email address

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