Tuesday April 21st, 2020

Recruitment of a PhD student : Design of nanoscaled sensors for the detection of molecules of biological interest and pathogens based on Prussian blue and its analogous

Title :

Design of nanoscaled sensors for the detection of molecules of biological interest and pathogens based on Prussian blue and its analogous “

Host structure : The work will take place at the Charles Gerhardt Institute in Montpellier in the Molecular Engineering and Nano-Objects (IMNO) and Advanced Materials for Catalysis and Health (MACS) teams.

Application deadline : September 18, 2020

Duration : 36 months from October, 2020


The detection of molecules of biological interest or different pathogens by using simple and efficient technologies is an important challenge in the current academic and industrial research, and constitutes a strong societal demand.

The proposed PhD project deals with the needed developments of sensitive materials in the fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology based on nano-sized Prussian Blue (PB) and Prussian Blue Analogues (PBA). Indeed, PB and PBA (AxMyII[M’III(CN)6]z, where A is a monovalent cation, M and M’ are transition metals ions with M = M’ = Fe for PB) are porous nanomaterials possessing interesting catalytic redox properties mimicking activity of enzymes, which makes them highly interesting for the selective detection of various molecules of biological interest.

The present project aims to investigate the nanozyme properties of PB and PBA for electrochemical and optical detection of various molecules of biological interest and extend them to bacteria and parasites.



The first part of the project will be dedicated to the development of PBA sensitive nanoscaled thin films or particles grown on different functionalized surfaces (for instance gold, glass, magnetic beads and magnetic nanoparticles). The PhD will develop new and original methods for the growth of PB and PBA and optimize the conditions to control the surface coverage and the nucleation-growth process. The possible coupling with the properties of the support (i.e. gold or magnetic oxide’s surface) will be evaluated. Secondly, the electrochemical and optical properties of films and nanocomposites will be evaluated. Thirdly, the functionalisation with molecules identified for specific recognition of pathogens will be investigated (for instance lectins, aptamers and antibodies). The PhD will develop original and universal methods for PB and PBA surface post-functionalization.

The PhD student will use surface characterization techniques, such as Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Infrared spectroscopy (IR), Surface Plasmon Resonance spectroscopy (SPR), UV-Visible absorption spectroscopy, X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), to characterize the chemical composition and the morphology of the deposited or grown nanoparticles or films.

The potential of these nanometric materials as a sensitive layer will be evaluated in the context of the development of Point of Care (POC) devices in the frame of European collaborations. Indeed, among different inorganic nanoparticles and thin films, used as biosensors’ components, Prussian blue and its analogous have been found as excellent candidates for the design of POC devices thanks to their enzyme-like activity for electrochemical, optical biological detection of various molecules (glucose, dopamine, ethanol, choline, D-alanine, glutamate, urea, etc.).


Required profile

The candidate must have a master’s degree or equivalent. He will have transversal skills: presentations, report writing, multi-team project management.

Required skills : Coordination chemistry, physical-chemistry, nanosciences. Synthesis and characterization of nanometric films and nano-objects.


Pr. Joulia Larionova (joulia.larionova@umontpellier.fr). Tel: +33 4 67 14 48 05.

Location : Montpellier

Duration : 36 months

Funding : Ministerial fellowship