Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT)

Characterization of motility in microorganisms on substrates using MEMS tools

Job description

Cyanobacteria is one of the most important and oldest class of bacteria on earth. Additionally, they have very interesting characteristics and exhibit intriguing behavior. More specifically, Cyanobacteria can produce their own food through photosynthesis and move in response to light – behavior which is called phototaxis.

The study of phototaxis of cyanobacteria is the topic of the present project. You will be using the tool-set specific to lab on a chip (LOC) and microfluidic devices in order to investigate phototaxis of cyanobacteria within microfluidic chips. Furthermore, you will be trained in MEMS-based characterization techniques in order to subsequently characterize the bacterial cells, their movement on various substrates and in the end, record the overall response of cell motility as a function of different surface properties.

The specific tasks within the project will be: (i) training on MEMS characterization techniques such as contact angle measurements, atomic force microscopy (AFM), Zeta potential measurement and white light Interferometry ; (ii) cell culture, cell handling and testing on a Microscopic setup; (iii) statistical analysis of the data;

You will be integrated in a larger team within the SPA-Lab. Within this project, you will use the infrastructure existent at the Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT), i.e., microfabrication facilities and micro-characterization equipment. This is a complete project, offering the possibility to fabricate and test the devices, giving you the opportunity to co-author conference and/or journal publications.

Figure 1: a) The macroscopic phototaxis assay in a classic glass-bottomed petri dish with the cells forming finger like projections highlighted in the white box. b) Finger like projections observed in the custom made phototaxis chambers. c) Zoomed in view of the finger like projections shown in figure 2b. The scale bar is 500 μm.

Figure 2: a) The surface profile image of a 3 micron bacterial cell obtained using an AFM operated in contact mode b) Surface profile measurement of a SU8 substrate used in the study.

Starting date: by appointment

Contract duration: 6-9 months


  • good academic record (marks); curious about various aspects of science;
  • enthusiastic to work in a multidisciplinary environment;
  • independent thinker and team player;
  • in particular: strong interest in Microbiology, microfluidics, BioMEMS, microsystems technologies for bio-medical applications, biophotonics;
  • knowledge in microsystems/microfabrication/microfluidics is desirable.

Technical contact

M.Sc. Albina Nirupa Julius
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Institute of Microstructure Technology
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

phone: +49 721 608-29316
e-mail: albina juliusViy3∂kit edu

Dr. Vlad Badilita
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Institute of Microstructure Technology
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

phone: +49 721 608-29315
e-mail: vlad badilitaGaz8∂kit edu