Context and research challenge

The characterisation of micro- and nanoscale particles is of great interest to a broad spectrum of industrial and environmental applications. The continuous technological improvements in analytical instruments have ignited new analytical ideas and pathways to assess and explore several key characteristics, such as concentration, composition, particle size, shape and other surface characteristics. The in-depth mass spectrometry and size separation chromatography knowledge present in the VITO laboratory, has been successfully used to explore new characterization approaches for nanoscale metallic particles in different VITO related R&D case studies (e.g. (a) (bi-)metallic nanoparticles used for reductive catalytic depolymerisation of lignin, (b) glycan-functionalised gold nanorods used in health diagnostics).
This does however not fulfil the characterisation needs for non-metallic nano- and micro scale particles. They require another approach due to the nature of the molecules involved. The goal of this project is to open up new frontiers regarding characterization of non-metallic micro- and nanoparticles (1nm-20µm). The achievement of these goals will require a wide set of complementary tools such as analytical and instrumental chemistry, physics and nanometrology.


Method development will be performed on existing instrumentation available at GOAL . This includes mass spectrometry based instrumentation, i.e. single particle ICP-MS and pyrolysis–gas chromatography–MS; size separation chromatography instrumentation, i.e. size exclusion chromatography – UV/VIS – multi angle light scattering and FT-IR.  

The (not-limitative) envisaged VITO R&D applications/collaborations are : 
Characterisation of microplastic particles/fibres during development phase of a VITO microplastic filtration unit for washing machines.  Microplastic pollution caused by washing synthetic textiles is one of the main sources of primary microplastics (~ a third of all primary microplastics released to world oceans).

With this call, we invite researchers to submit their resumé (including track-record) and a one-page project description, that will be the basis for selecting candidates with whom we will collaborate for developing a competitive MSCA-PF proposal. 

Deadline application to VITO

Interested candidates should submit their resume (incl. track record) and a one-page note describing the project for which a Marie Curie grant will be applied, as soon as possible and no later than Friday 30 April 2021 17h Brussels time.


Successful candidates will be supervised by Prof. Dr. Stefan Voorspoels and Dr. Kristof Tirez.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Voorspoels is team leader of the analytical team and project manager of several research projects in the field of chemical analysis and method development, human exposure, chemical and material characterization. He is also visiting professor “Analytical Chemistry” at the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture at Ghent University. He is specialized in organic analytical chemistry and chromatography.

Dr. Kristof Tirez works as a researcher and project leader in the inorganic analytical department of Vito. His main experience and research interests are situated in the quantitative determination and speciation of elements in a variety of matrices. Besides, he acts as a science - policy bridge person and analytical expert for different Flemish agencies dealing with environmental regulatory monitoring. 
For any inquiries please contact:

Deadline MSCA-PF 2021

Wednesday 15 September 2021 17h Brussels time.

Target start date

The EU informs the results on the MSCA-PF applications in February 2022. Successful candidates are expected to be available to start within the following two months and no later than summer 2022.


We invite applicants to propose a more detailed and focused research approach within the scope of this MSCA-PF Fellowship as a part of their application. We are primarily looking for experienced researchers who wish to use this period as an opportunity to further develop their research and skills, and to develop longer-term research collaborations with VITO and other institutions conducting research in the field. 
The candidates as in principle must be eligible for a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship – please refer to the conditions to be set-out in the Horizon Europe MSCA-PF-2021 Work Programme, including taking into account the new MSCA Green Charter principles.

  • The following assets will be advantageous:
  • An excellent track record in research, necessary for being able to develop a competitive Marie Curie Fellowship application;
  • Already published relevant research work in prestigious scientific journals;
  • An open and cooperation-oriented nature, but with strong abilities for independent research work;
  • Highly proficient in spoken and written English.

Initially, we offer assistance in developing competitive Marie Curie Individual Fellowship proposals.

Then, to successful applicants to the Marie Curie programme, we offer;

  • An exciting opportunity at VITO, the independent Flemish research organisation driven by the major global challenges. Our goal? To accelerate the transition to a sustainable world;
  • Participation in a dynamic professional research & innovation community;
  • Flexible working conditions;
  • An inclusive and friendly work environment;
  • On-boarding assistance and other services.