PhD position in Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics

PhD position in Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics

Published Deadline Location
30 Nov 8 Jan Amsterdam

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What is wrong with the deuteron? Searching for new physics by swapping protons and deuterons in a molecular clock

A PhD position in experimental atomic, molecular and atomic physics is available at LaserLaB VU Amsterdam. Come join us in developing a...

Job description

This PhD position is part of a new project aimed at extremely precise measurements of the hyperfine structure of the simplest molecule: the hydrogen molecular ion. New measurements are urgently needed to explain a 9-sigma discrepancy between earlier measurements in HD+, and predictions by the standard model of particle physics. As a PhD student, you will be part of small research team that will upgrade an existing ion-trap apparatus and carry out the new precision measurements.

Your duties
  • to upgrade an existing ion-trap setup, which is used for storage and laser cooling of small numbers of atomic and molecular ions
  • to develop new schemes to manipulate and detect the state of the molecular ions, making use of lasers and radiofrequency fields
  • to put textbook quantum mechanics, optics and electronics into practice by designing, simulating, conducting, and analyzing measurements of molecular ions
  • to operate and improve the experimental setup, including experiment automation and control software
  • to carry out high-precision measurements that will shed light on the observed 9-sigma discrepancy
  • contribute to teaching (max. 10%).


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • a MSc degree in Physics, Physical Chemistry or Applied Physics, preferably specializing in atomic, molecular, and/or optical physics
  • a fascination for physics and cutting-edge technology
  • a creative mind and independent 'self-starting' attitude, with the ability to see beyond boundaries, set priorities, and develop your skills through self-study where needed
  • demonstrated hands-on experience in optics, electronics, lasers, vacuum systems, and system automation
  • knowledge of and experience with numerical simulation tools and software development

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year.

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,541 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,247 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended to a total duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment, 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus, a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge, optional model for designing a personalized benefits package, space for personal development.


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor - from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to more than 11,000 students.

About the Quantum Metrology and Laser Applications group at LaserLab VU
The research in our group gravitates around experimental tests of the foundations of physical law through high-precision studies of simple atoms and molecules, using the most advanced experimental and theoretical tools currently available. Thanks to a vast infrastructure of lasers and unique measurement equipment, complemented by many decades of experience of its staff members, the group has held several world records in precision measurement.


  • PhD
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 13269


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1105, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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