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Personal profile


"To most organisms crystallization of water into ice is lethal. I am fascinated by the way antifreeze proteins protect against damage and want to develop new macromolecular antifreezes for sensitive soft materials."

Research profile

Ilja Voets leads an interdisciplinary team of chemists, physicists, biologists, and engineers, studying self-assembly processes in (biological) soft matter. The goal of the Voets research group is to gain fundamental insights in these processes and translate them into rational design strategies for novel functional soft materials. Voets is interested in colloidal self-organization, polymer assembly and folding, and protein biophysics. She studies how to control intra- and intermolecular copolymer assembly to reveal key structure-property relations, to package fragile biomolecules, to develop artificial enzymes, to enhance colloidal stability and to tailor smart materials. She has a particular fascination for ice-binding proteins (IBPs) that help fish, insects, and plants survive in extreme environments at subzero temperatures. Another key research challenge is to orchestrate colloidal self-assembly with remote cues such as light and temperature.

Academic background

Ilja Voets studied Molecular Sciences at Wageningen University & Research, where she obtained her PhD (cum laude) in 2008 at the Laboratory of Physical Chemistry and Colloid Science under supervision of dr. Arie de Keizer and prof. Martien A. Cohen Stuart. Her PhD thesis focused on micellisation in dilute aqueous solutions of two oppositely charge double hydrophilic block copolymers. From 2008-2011 Voets was a postdoctoral researcher at the AldolpheMerkle Institute of the University of Fribourg (Switzerland). In 2011 she started as assistant professor (tenure track) in Physical Chemistry at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry and the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems. Since 2018 she is a full professor at TU/e. 

Affiliated with

  • Institute for Complex Molecular Systems
  • Eindhoven Polymer Laboratories
  • Gravity Program Functional Molecular Systems

Partners in (semi-)industry:

  • DSM
  • Kemetyl
  • Unilever

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Research Output

IPAINT: A general approach tailored to image the topology of interfaces with nanometer resolution

Aloi, A., Vilanova, N., Albertazzi, L. & Voets, I. K., 28 Apr 2016, In : Nanoscale. 8, 16, p. 8712-8716 5 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
  • 20 Citations (Scopus)
    121 Downloads (Pure)

    Blocking rapid ice crystal growth through nonbasal plane adsorption of antifreeze proteins

    Olijve, L. L. C., Meister, K., DeVries, A. L., Duman, J. G., Guo, S., Bakker, H. J. & Voets, I. K., 5 Apr 2016, In : Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). 113, 14, p. 3740-3745 6 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    Open Access
  • 62 Citations (Scopus)
    149 Downloads (Pure)

    Sticky Supramolecular Grafts Stretch Single Polymer Chains

    Gillissen, M. A. J., Terashima, T., Meijer, E. W., Palmans, A. R. A. & Voets, I. K., 2013, In : Macromolecules. 46, 10, p. 4120-4125 6 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • 51 Citations (Scopus)
    8 Downloads (Pure)

    An Azobenzene-Based Single-Component Supramolecular Polymer Responsive to Multiple Stimuli in Water

    Fuentes, E., Gerth, M., Berrocal, J. A., Matera, C., Gorostiza, P., Voets, I. K., Pujals, S. & Albertazzi, L., 3 Jun 2020, In : Journal of the American Chemical Society. 142, 22, p. 10069-10078 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • Architecture-dependent interplay between self-assembly and crystallization in discrete block co-oligomers

    Petkau-Milroy, K., Ianiro, A., Ahn, M. M. L., Magana, J. R., Vleugels, M. E. J., Lamers, B. A. G., Tuinier, R., Voets, I. K., Palmans, A. R. A. & Meijer, E. W., 21 Jan 2020, In : ACS Macro Letters. 9, 1, p. 38-42 5 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    Open Access
  • 18 Downloads (Pure)


  • New chemical building blocks for de-icing and anti-icing of car windows

    I.K. Voets (Recipient), 2017

    Prize: ERCProof of conceptScientific

  • NWO Veni Award : Balancing with proteins

    I.K. Voets (Recipient), 25 Nov 2010

    Prize: NWOVeniScientific

  • NWO Vidi Award : Adaptive materials with molecular light switches

    I.K. Voets (Recipient), 2014

    Prize: NWOVidiScientific

  • Courses

    Biological physics

    1/09/12 → …


    Capita selecta

    1/09/16 → …


    Experimental soft matter

    1/09/15 → …


    Graduation Project MSMC

    1/09/15 → …


    ICMS Industrial Challenge

    1/09/17 → …


    Press / Media

    Antivries in het bloed

    Ilja K. Voets


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities

    Student theses

    Activity of antifreeze proteins: the possible role of a monomer-dimer equilibrium

    Author: van Schijndel, L., 31 Aug 2014

    Supervisor: Meijer, E. (Supervisor 1), Milroy, L. (Supervisor 2), Voets, I. (Supervisor 2) & Olijve, L. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master

    Behaviour and morphology of self-assemblies of pH-responsive polyurethane ionomers

    Author: Song, S., 29 Nov 2017

    Supervisor: Voets, I. K. (Supervisor 1), Sahebali, S. (Supervisor 2), Tuinier, R. (Supervisor 2) & Sijbesma, R. P. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master

    Benzene-1,3,5-tricarboxamide based supramolecular organogels: from molecular self-assembly to macroscopic properties

    Author: Haveman, J., 16 Oct 2014

    Supervisor: Palmans, A. (Supervisor 1), Wyss, H. (Supervisor 2), Voets, I. (Supervisor 2), Meijer, E. (Supervisor 2) & Meuldijk, J. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master

    Complex coacervate core micelles containing poly(vinyl alcohol) for anti-icing applications

    Author: Sproncken, C., Apr 2017

    Supervisor: Voets, I. (Supervisor 1), Suris Valls, R. (Supervisor 2) & Tuinier, R. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master

    Feedback driven formation and dissociation of complex coacervate core micelles

    Author: Meertens, N. C., 20 Dec 2017

    Supervisor: Voets, I. K. (Supervisor 1), Cingil, H. (Supervisor 2), Meijer, E. (. (Supervisor 2) & Borneman, Z. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master