PhD Position Satellite to Ground Laser Communication Links

PhD Position Satellite to Ground Laser Communication Links

Published Deadline Location
9 Feb 22 Mar Delft

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Do you want to work on an exciting, relevant and practical research topic? Do you have analytical and experimental skills? Do you have expertise in the field of optics, statistics and/or turbulence?

Job description

Laser Satellite communications (laser satcom) is a potential game changer for satellite communication systems. It has become a major topic in the Dutch space and opto-mechatronic ecosystem. This eco system has developed several hardware systems that are capable for laser satellite communications. These will be space borne in due time, and are ready to enter the validation phase.

This PhD topic focusses on the understanding of the laser link between a satellite optical terminal and a ground optical terminal. This relates to the performance of the pointing mechanisms, the link acquisition (hand-shake) and in particular the effects of the atmosphere.

Topics that are covered by this PhD topic:

  • Experimental and analytical validation of and research on laser communication link robustness and performance given varying atmospheric and operational conditions.
  • Development of the Modelling and Simulation suite supporting link robustness and performance analyses.
  • Experimental and theoretic assessment for link performance and robustness improvements (e.g. calibration, link acquisition and turbulence mitigation strategies).

This project will be executed in collaboration with Dutch laser satcom industrial partners, in particular the Netherlands organisation for Applied Scientific research (TNO). One of the goals for this PhD project is to make a real contribution for the involved industrial parties.

This project will be supervised from the Space Engineering department at the faculty of Aerospace Engineering at the TU Delft. This department is currently expanding the knowledge position on the topic of laser satellite satcom with staff and several PhD positions.     


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


We are looking for candidates with:

  • An MSc or equivalent in Engineering or applied/experimental physics.
  • Strong analytic and experimental skills proven by MSc-work or work experience.
  • Affinity with practical work to run the experiments.
  • Flexibility regarding the ever changing conditions in an experimental setting.
  • Positive attitude towards a multidisciplinary environment with multiple stakeholders.
  • Proficiency in the English language (oral and writing).
  • Good communications skills (soft-skills).

The following additions would be a great asset:

  • Experience with laser propagation through turbulence.
  • Experience with communications systems.
  • Background in optics/opto-mechatronics.
  • Proficiency in statistics.
  • Understanding of link budget analysis.
  • Experience with programming (e.g. C++, Matlab).     

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1.5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2.5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts 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.


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 Aerospace Engineering

The Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology is one of the world’s most highly ranked (and most comprehensive) research, education and innovation communities devoted entirely to aerospace engineering. More than 200 science staff, around 270 PhD candidates andclose to 3000 BSc and MSc students apply aerospace engineering disciplines to address the global societal challenges that threaten us today, climate change without doubt being the most important. Our focal subjects: sustainable aerospace, big data and artificial intelligence, bio-inspired engineering and smart instruments and systems. Working at the faculty means working together. With partners in other faculties, knowledge institutes, governmentsand industry, both aerospace and non-aerospace. Working in field labs and innovation hubs on our university campus and beyond. 

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD03486


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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