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Leader in Integrated ICT Hardware & Systems

Senior Researcher in Electrochemical Nanosensor development – chemistry

AOR-23 Senior Researcher in Electrochemical Nanosensor development – chemistry

Contract: Full Time/Fixed Term


The Science Foundation Ireland/Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine: VistaMilk Centre for innovative Smart precision pasture-based dairying, brings together a number of major Irish research providers to facilitate the development and deployment of new knowledge, new ICT technologies and new decision support tools to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire dairy production chain.  To this end, Vistamilk will develop new, and advance existing, electronic monitoring and sensing technologies to transform an already world-class dairy sector into a global leader in sustainable Agri-Tech and also provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for research, education and innovation within this domain.

VistaMilk will specifically address pasture-based dairy production, improved processability and the generation of novel, higher-value-added products through the creation of new sensing and actuation paradigms.  Particular focus will be given to developing state-of-the-art sensor based analytical techniques applied to largescale, sensor data-sets delivered by advanced network and communication technologies.  VistaMilk is a consortium of 4 main academic partners and 35 industry partners which will be the most inclusive and comprehensive research centre of its kind in the world.  The academics are leaders in their fields and the industry partners come from a range of key companies from across the value-chain in the all important ICT and dairy sectors in Ireland.

Tyndall National Institute is a core partner in the VistaMilk Centre and is leading the Smart Sensor Systems deep-tech development. In addition, Tyndall has a portfolio of other Agri-tech projects.  As one of Europe’s leading ICT institutes, with over 600 people and a capital infrastructure in excess of €250m, Tyndall is now focusing its research in microelectronics and front end sensor development into “making smart things for the Internet of Dairying”. We now wish to recruit a senior post-doctoral researcher to lead the chemical nanosensor development aspect of this and related projects. 

Purpose of the role

The MicroNanoSystems Centre (MNS) at Tyndall are seeking a highly motivated post-doctoral researcher to formulate and implement projects in the area of nanoscale electrochemistry.  We have recently developed new integrated electrochemical nanosensors employing nanowires as sensing elements on-chip and have demonstrated significantly enhanced sensitivity, when compared to the state of the art, for a range of important molecules including: chemical analytes (e.g., explosives & metals) and biochemical analytes (e.g., glucose, dopamine).  These new sensors have been sufficiently developed to allow electrochemical-based label-free detection of binding events including antibody-antigen.  Recently we have shown label-free immunoassays at single nanoband electrodes and demonstrated real-time detection (time to detection: 15 minutes) of viruses and antibodies in serum.  Within VistaMilk, we aim to further develop Tyndall’s on-chip nanoelectrode platform to widen its capability to selectively detect different chemical species such as anions cations in complex (bio) liquids. 

The candidate will co-develop new approaches for chemical modification of sensors, based on Ion Sensitive Electrode (ISE) ionophores, organic/inorganic materials, to confer selectivity for detection of different cationic and ionic species in water and milk.  Using an iterative approach, nanoelectrodes will be chemically modified, characterised and optimised for the multiplexed detection of target species.  The work will involve the development of state-of-the-art research methods that involve nanosensor development and fabrication (in collaboration with the nano-fabrication facility at Tyndall) chemical modification of gold or platinum nanoelectrodes using additive chemical approaches, test, characterisation, evaluation, integration with electronic circuitry (in collaboration with the microelectronic circuit centre of Ireland at Tyndall) field deployment and validation. 

In general, researchers at Tyndall are also expected to participate in the full range of activities of the group, contributing to collaborative projects, particularly where their special expertise can make a direct contribution. MNS plays a leading role in the Science Foundation Ireland / Department of Agriculture Food and the VistaMilk Centre which involves close collaboration with industry as well as national and international academic research groups. The candidate is expected to contribute to these collaborations, in particular helping to generate and deliver industry projects which are mainly in the area of sensor development and system validation and test.

The researcher will have additional responsibilities of acting as an Investigator on collaborative or external (e.g. EU) funded projects, where appropriate, and will also be required to initiate and contribute to writing of new proposals and the seeking of new funding opportunities.  Researchers are expected, at times, to lead both the technical and project management functions for projects and as such provide process expertise as and when needed to improve the operational functions of the group. The researcher is also expected to contribute to student (e.g. PhD) supervision, and, when required, to take the main supervision role.

The researcher is expected to have a strong track record of achievement and experience in the field (typically 6 years post PhD) of electrochemical sensor development, including experience of working on industrial projects, although not necessarily in a leading role.

This post is an initial two-year post-doctoral position with an extension linked to the funding opportunities of the MNS centre.

Key Duties and Responsibilities include:

  • To take responsibility for the specification and development of research projects.
  • To be a thought leader and proactively generate research initiatives and ideas.
  • Independently manage potential work with industry partners on specific smart bio-chemical sensor projects and to coordinate technical and programmatic research activities for collaborative industrial projects.
  • To independently manage, when necessary, the quality assurance and methods definition for project development and delivery.
  • Anticipate and highlight potential innovation opportunities that meet and grow the strategic needs of the centre.
  • Work with financial managers to assess the level of required funding and project support.
  • To assist in managing certain nanosensor laboratory activities when appropriate.
  • Assist with co-supervision and training of junior group members including students.
  • Conduct specified programmes of research as required by the MNS centre.
  • Initiate and take responsibility in grant proposal writing for EU, SFI and other funding streams.
  • To engage in the wider research and scholarly activities of the research group, such as outreach activities.
  • To interact closely with postgraduate research students who are studying for a Masters or a PhD and possibly have an agreed role in supporting these students in their day to day research in conjunction including, when appropriate, acting as primary academic supervisor.
  • To carry out administrative work to support the programme of research as necessary.
  • To initiate, enforce and comply with UCC and Tyndall’s health and safety and quality policies.
  • To carry out any additional duties as may be reasonably required within the general scope and level of the post.

Essential criteria

  • A PhD qualification in Science, engineering or a related discipline.
  • Typically six years of postdoctoral research experience in Ion Sensitive Electrode development demonstrated by a proven track record of publications in leading journals and at major conferences.
  • In-depth knowledge and track-record of achievement in sensor modification and development
  • Working knowledge of field deployment and validation techniques
  • Previous experience of working in a research project team
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.

Desirable criteria

  • Experience in food quality analysis
  • Experience of writing grant proposals
  • Experience of working collaboratively with industry
  • Highly self-motivated and able to demonstrate initiative
  • A commitment to personal growth and development
  • A background or experience in the agricultural sector

Appointment may be made on the Senior Postdoctoral Scale €46,337 - €49,048 pa. Salary placement on appointment will be in accordance with public sector pay policy.

Informal enquiries can be made in confidence to Dr. Alan O’Riordan at

Closing date for application is 21st February, 2020 before noon.

Application Instructions

Step 1 - please click here to download the Application form and indicate Job Reference AOR-23

Step 2 - return the completed Application form, together with your CV, motivation letter and references to

Handwritten forms and late applications will not be accepted.

Please note that Garda vetting and/or an international police clearance check may form part of the selection process.

The University, at its discretion, may undertake to make an additional appointment(s) from this competition following the conclusion of the process.

At this time, Tyndall National Institute does not require the assistance of recruitment agencies.

Tyndall National Institute at University College, Cork is an Equal Opportunities Employer.