PhD position in ultrafast dynamics in perovskite structures – Zurich, Switzerland

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PhD position in ultrafast dynamics in perovskite structures

The Ultrafast Dynamics Group (Prof. Steven Johnson) in the Department of Physics of ETH Zürich has an open PhD position.

Project background

The project aims to investigate ultrafast dynamics in perovskite structures, in particular SrTiO3, KTaO3, and LaAlO3.  These materials display a strong interplay of different degrees of freedom that determine their macroscopic properties. Crucially, the use of strong, ultrashort laser pulses in the THz, mid-infrared, or optical frequency range can be exploited to selectively excite electronic or vibrational degrees of freedom, thus offering a convenient platform for the control of these materials.

Our goal is to study aspects of electron-phonon and phonon-phonon coupling triggered by ultrashort laser pulses using a combination of ultrafast table-top spectroscopy techniques and time-resolved x-ray-based experiments.

This project will be based in Prof. Steven Johnson’s Ultrafast Dynamics Group at ETH Zürich and conducted under Dr. Martina Basini´s leadership. X-ray measurements will take place at large-scale facilities both in Switzerland and abroad.

Job description

This position requires the design, construction, modification, and use of ultrafast laser pump-probe setups to perform time-resolved studies on a variety of perovskite materials, under the supervision and guidance of experienced researchers. You will be expected to understand and apply a range of concepts from modern optics to the generation and use of ultrashort pulses with frequencies ranging from the THz to PHz (optical) regimes. You will also be expected to contribute significantly to x-ray-based measurements of time-resolved dynamics at large-scale facilities, which may involve travel abroad.  Your tasks will extend also to the modelling and interpretation of the resulting data in collaboration with others, and the preparation of scientific publications based on this work.  You will also be required to contribute to the teaching of bachelor-level and master-level students in the framework of course assistance and the supervision of short projects. The starting dates are from March 2023.

Your profile

You should:

  • hold a Master’s degree preferably in physics, alternatively in material sciences
  • have a strong background in condensed matter physics is required
  • have previous experience with ultrafast optical or x-ray experiments
  • have proficiency in oral and written English and must be enthusiastic, creative and self-motivated.  Strong teamwork skills are vital.

We offer

The ultrafast dynamics group is focused on the study of highly nonequilibrium dynamics in solid-state systems, with the aims to better understand and even control the properties of materials with higher speeds and efficiencies that is possible using more conventional methods.  A unique feature of our group is a strong connection with the SwissFEL free electron laser, which offers world-leading capabilities to use femtosecond and even attosecond pulses of x-rays to construct atomic-scale «movies» of how materials evolve in real-time.  We combine this unique source with state-of-the-art ultrafast laser technologies in other wavelength ranges extending from optical to THz, which allows us to study how materials can be manipulated by coherent light pulses.

Our team is highly multicultural and offers flexible working arrangements. As a PhD student, you will be able to enroll in a wide variety of courses to deepen your knowledge of science and engineering, as well as to take advantage of career mentoring resources.  While the bulk of your lab and teaching activity will be on the ETH Hoenggerberg campus, the x-ray-based experiments will be performed at the nearby Paul Scherrer Institute and a variety of international facilities in places such as Germany, the USA, Japan, and South Korea. We also support travel to and participation in international schools and conferences.

Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich

We value diversity

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • Letter of motivation (usually 1 page, maximum 2 pages) explaining why you are interested in this position with our group
  • Brief statement of research interests (1 page)
  • Copies of transcripts for relevant bachelor’s and master’s studies
  • CV
  • Names and contact information for at least two academic referees (please do not attach letters, we will contact them directly)

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Further information about our group can be found on our website. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Steven Johnson, johnson@phys.ethz.ch (no applications).

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

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