Scientific Internship: Designing and building a focus stabilization device integrated in a state-of-the-art single-molecule fluorescence microscope

Date posted October 24, 2018
Type Scientific Internships

The design of new instruments is at the heart of experimental physics. Often, commercial solutions lack flexibility or do not meet the requirements of the specific scientific setup. As an intern in our Physics of Cellular Interactions group headed by Dr. Kristina Ganzinger, you will design and build a focus stabilization device and integrate it into our single-molecule total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscope.

More about the project

Our group combines synthetic biology with biophysical approaches and microfabrication (JACS 2013, PloS One 2013, Nat Comm in press) to study signaling in isolation from cellular cross-talk.

We use model membrane systems with fluorescently labeled molecules of interest.

The surface-confined excitation in TIRF microscopy allows us to observe the labeled components present in the model membranes with exceptional sensitivity and specificity.

However, a precise control of the sample position is required to achieve the best imaging performance. Particularly, the vertical distance of the microscope objective and the sample is critical to maintain a focused image.

In this project, you will design and build a device which monitors the vertical distance and corrects the position of the sample in real-time using a feedback loop. Your project will involve wiring up the electronics (e.g. infrared laser diode, digital-to-analog converters, CCD light arrays), microprocessor programming (e.g. Arduino), aligning the optics on an optical breadboard and integrating the device into our setup. Once built, the setup calibration and first measurements using the focus stabilization device will be part of your project.

About the group

The group Physics of Cellular Interactions focuses specifically on processes that are critical to the immune system. Inspired by previous research projects that have shown the importance of spatiotemporal constraints for T cell activation (Nat Immun 2016), we investigate the interplay of membrane topography and signaling. This means exploring how cells shape their membranes not only in response to signals, but also to detect and discriminate them. We address these questions mainly by reconstituting signaling processes in model-membrane systems (“artificial cells”). By combining this synthetic biology approach with tools from single-molecule biophysics and microfabrication (JACS 2013, PloS One 2013, Nat Comm in press), we can study signaling in isolation from cellular cross-talk.


You have a Bachelors degree in physics, electronical or computer engineering and participate in a Master study in one of these areas and would like to do an internship.

The internship must be a mandatory part of your curriculum. You have a nationality of an EU-member state and/or you are a student at a Netherlands University. You must be available for at least 2 months within the first quarter of 2019.

Terms of employment

At the start of the traineeship your trainee plan will be set out, in consultation with your AMOLF supervisor and your day-to-day supervisor in the lab.

Contact info

dr. Kristina Ganzinger
Group leader Physics of Cellular Interactions
Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100

You can respond to this vacancy online via the button below.
Please annex your:
– Resume;
– List of followed courses plus grades.

Online screening may be part of the selection.