P2 – Self-sustainability

Redox reactions are essential in life, and redox homeostasis is one of the hallmarks of living cells. We aim to build systems in which the redox status can be controlled, and the effects of redox homeostasis on (bio)chemical reactions can be studied. Microfluidic devices containing electrodes will be built and self-replicating molecules will be studied in chambers of the microfluidic device where not only the redox status, but also the rates of substrate supply and product release can be controlled. We will build membrane-enclosed compartments through steered self-assembly, in which biochemically relevant redox reactions take place. The system will be thermodynamically open, but redox homeostasis is maintained. The work will lead to insight in the emergent behaviour of homeostatic out-of-equilibrium systems.

PhD-project 2: Redox homeostasis in confinement

PhD student: Ella Ewins
Supervisors: Slotboom / Chiechi


To create a compartmentalized redox system, in which the redox status can be controlled using external stimuli. The aim is to achieve this with giant unilamellar vesicles as the compartment. This would enable direct observation of changes in redox state via microscopy (due to their size, approximately 10-100 mm), typically using changes in fluorescence as a readout. Redox reactions are ubiquitous in life and utilized by many other biological processes, often as a source of energy. We further aim to couple the initial redox system with a further biochemical pathway in a separate lipid compartment.


  • Widefield and fluorescence microscopy
  • Giant unilamellar vesicles
  • Image analysis
  • Microfluidics (fabrication and use)