Postdoc Starshot Breakthrough Prize Initiatives Project (Starshot) and Limitless Space Institute

Postdoc Starshot Breakthrough Prize Initiatives Project (Starshot) and Limitless Space Institute

Published Deadline Location
3 Nov 30 Nov Delft

You cannot apply for this job anymore (deadline was 30 Nov 2022).

Browse the current job offers or choose an item in the top navigation above.

Would you like to contribute to cutting edge research on innovative ultra-light sails? Unlike any material found in nature? Unlike any material made in science to date? Then we might have the challenge for you!

Job description

The Postdoctoral Researcher will be leading one a multi-million-euro project on ultra-thin photonic crystal sails for next-generation space travel -- the project is in collaboration with the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Limitless Space Institute. Our lab is currently working at the cutting edge of nanotechnology, nanophotonics, applied physics and space travel by developing ultra-light sails (i.e. mirrors) which are unlike any material found in nature or made in science to date.

In 2016 Breakthrough Prize Foundation announced a $100 million initiative to realize microchip satellite for unmanned interstellar travel. By attaching these microchips to low-mass sails which are meters large and only nanometers thick, these satellites could be accelerated to ultra-fast speeds with lasers. This type of sail material would allow us to shorten times to Alpha Centauri, our nearest star, from 10,000 years to only 20 years – completely changing humanity’s reach within the universe. These unique capabilities that novel sail materials could open, but it’s also recognized by leading experts around the world that the largest challenge will be developing the lightsail. Why is that? Well, if one looks at the microchip, it needs to be made smaller in x, y and z – which is in line with the conventional miniaturization we’ve been doing over the last half century. But the lightsails stand as a unique challenge because it's the only nanoscale components which needs to be expanded to meter scales. Our lab has been pioneering metamaterials with extreme aspect ratio putting us in a unique position to bring this technology within reach.

At the TU Delft, Netherlands, we can design and produce these suspended reflective structures at the centimeter-scale for the first time. EARS will push the limits of nanotechnology further with world-class experimental system. This system will allow us to allow us to overcome conventional obstacles in this nanotechnology and open a new regime of light-matter interaction. While optical levitation won the 2018 Nobel Prize for revolutionizing physics and engineering, it has so far been limited to the nanoscale objects. The lightsail materials we're proposing in EARS will allow us to perform the 1st optical levitation microstructures that are 100,000x more massive than anything levitated with coherent light to date. Photonic crystals mirrors will make this possible, and will push the boundaries of material science, nanophotonic design and structural engineering.


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


Strongly required:

  • PhD in Experimental Optics, Physics, Engineering, or Material Science;
  • Experience with optical measurements;
  • Ability to lead a small team and work well within groups.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 2-4 years.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (salary indication: € 3.703 - € 4.670 per month gross). The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation. An International Children's Centre offers childcare and there is an international primary school.

This postdoc position has a contract of 2-4 years.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

The Faculty of 3mE carries out pioneering research, leading to new fundamental insights and challenging applications in the field of mechanical engineering. From large-scale energy storage, medical instruments, control technology and robotics to smart materials, nanoscale structures and autonomous ships. The foundations and results of this research are reflected in outstanding, contemporary education, inspiring students and PhD candidates to become socially engaged and responsible engineers and scientists. The faculty of 3mE is a dynamic and innovative faculty with an international scope and high-tech lab facilities. Research and education focus on the design, manufacture, application and modification of products, materials, processes and mechanical devices, contributing to the development and growth of a sustainable society, as well as prosperity and welfare.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering. Do you want to experience working at our faculty? These videos will introduce you to some of our researchers and their work.


  • Postdoc
  • Engineering
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • Doctorate
  • TUD03015


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Learn more about this employer


Mekelweg 2, 2628 CD, Delft

View on Google Maps

Interesting for you