Offre Postdoctorat en Imagerie par Spectrométrie de Masse TOF-SIMS – UCLouvain (Belgique)

UC Louvain, IMCN

Insitu approaches for sensitivity enhancement in biological tissue imaging by secondary ion mass spectrometry

Through a collaboration between the groups of profs. Delcorte, Dupont and Lauzin at UCLouvain, a new solvent- and matrix-free method for the immobilization of (bio)molecules was developed. This method, close to soft-landing preparative mass spectrometry, uses gas cluster ion beams (GCIB) for molecular transfer and thin coating assembly, from submonolayers to multilayers, in the ultra-high vacuum environment. As a proof-of-concept, our experiments showed that even lysozymes (MW=14 kDa) could be transferred intact in vacuo from a target to a collector, using a GCIB, and retain their bioactivity. The internal energies gained by the molecules upon transfer by GCIB are comparable to ESI and MALDI (soft desorption).

In parallel, as was first proposed at the National Physical Laboratory (UK), in-situ transfer of MALDI matrix molecules from a matrix reservoir onto tissue sections using a GCIB was evaluated as a means to enhance molecular ion yields in imaging time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS). By design, this variant of Matrix-Enhanced SIMS is applicable to high resolution 2D imaging, but also 3D molecular imaging by SIMS, because the subsequent operations of matrix deposition, surface imaging and sample etching can all be performed and repeated in-situ, in a programmed cycle, without the need to retrieve the sample from the analysis chamber. The molecular ion yields of reference molecules from various tissues (e.g. lipids), showed significant enhancements for both ion polarities. Other experiments involving tissues and in situ molecular transfer are now considered.

To pursue our investigations in that promising direction and lead the research on tissue analysis in our extended group (in collaboration with our colleagues of pharmacy and biomedical sciences), we are looking for a highly motivated candidate with a PhD in surface science/characterization and an expertise in mass spectrometry imaging, preferably familiar with secondary ion mass spectrometry. The candidate will integrate the Institute of Condensed Matter and Nanoscience (IMCN) of UCLouvain and have access to its resources and equipment (see links hereafter). He/she will assist PhD and master thesis students and will benefit from the help of an experienced engineer for the ToF-SIMS training, maintenance and methodological development.

IMCN is located on the main campus of UCLouvain, in Louvain-la-Neuve (LLN). LLN is a young and lively city, welcoming diversity. A pedestrian city in the heart of Belgium, its modern and multicultural atmosphere draws visitors to stroll around and enjoy the culture and amenities that entertain both the student and working population alike. With a population of 31,000, two urban centers, and a science park, it’s an increasingly popular location for young families and professionals. From its early beginnings of housing students, LLN has become a cultural hotspot. It’s now a well- planned city with a large shopping center and several shopping streets, sports complex, movie theaters and bars and restaurants, all a stone’s throw from the greenery and peaceful surroundings of the woods and lake. LLN is also conveniently located 30 km southeast of Brussels, with easy train access to the city and its airport.

The funding is provided for 1 year, starting immediately (fall 2022).

Important: Applicants should not have lived or carried out their main activity (work, study, etc.) in Belgium for more than 24 months in the three previous years (mobility scheme). They should also not have exceeded 6 years after the obtention of their PhD degree.

Candidates should send a detailed CV with a letter of motivation and contact for reference people to both A. Delcorte (arnaud.delcorte [at] and Ch. Dupont ( [at], co-supervisors of the project.

• Research environment:
• Technological platforms of the IMCN institute: