PhD Position 'Calculus of Variations'

PhD Position 'Calculus of Variations'

Published Deadline Location
25 Sep 1 Dec Eindhoven

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Interested in variational methods for frustrated magnets? Come help us understand the macroscopic behavior of frustrated spin systems from an energetic point of view.

Job description

This project aims at contributing towards a better mathematical understanding of ordering phenomena in magnetic materials.

In this field, a particular interest is in the so-called frustrated magnets. Those are magnets in which not all interaction energies between neighboring atoms can be minimized simultaneously, or in other words, not all atoms can be made "happy" at the same time. If this happens due to the geometry of the underlying crystalline lattice, then we talk about geometric frustration. To have a picture in mind, we can think about atoms sitting on a crystalline lattice and attached to every atom we can imagine a unit vector (the spin) representing the local magnetization. If the interactions between nearest neighbors are antiferromagnetic, then neighboring spins want to be anti-parallel to each other. In many crystalline structures this cannot be achieved for all nearest neighbors at the same time, as for example on the 2D triangular lattice.

In the case of frustration, the total energy of the system is minimized by finding suitable "compromises", for example by rotating neighboring spins by a fixed angle. As a consequence, the corresponding ground states show unconventional magnetic ordering. Moreover, there are typically several compromises available at the same time, which leads to a variety of corresponding ground states and thus to a particularly rich energy landscape. This rather complicated picture can often be simplified by passing in a suitable way from a discrete to a continuum model, which will be the main focus of this project.

To achieve the passage from discrete to continuum models, we will work within the framework of the calculus of variations and in particular within the framework of what is known as discrete-to­ continuum variational analysis. The latter is a procedure that allows to characterize continuum limits of discrete energies (defined for example on a crystalline lattice) by using the notion of Gamma­ convergence. More in detail, by taking the Gamma-limit of suitable renormalizations of discrete energies when the lattice spacing vanishes, one can characterize the macroscopic behavior of the system at several energy scales.


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)


  • The ideal candidate must hold (or be close to obtaining) a MSc degree in mathematics.
  • Interest in at least one of the following fields: Calculus of Variations, Geometric Measure Theory, Differential Geometry.
  • Interest in teaching activities.
  • Strong interpersonal, organizational and communication skills.
  • Ability to work both independently and in a team.
  • Working and teaching are in English. Excellent skills in this language are required.

Conditions of employment

A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we offer you:
  • Full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months. You will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • Salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, paid pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, scale P (min. €2,770 max. €3,539).
  • A year-end bonus of 8.3% and annual vacation pay of 8%.
  • High-quality training programs and other support to grow into a self-aware, autonomous scientific researcher. At TU/e we challenge you to take charge of your own learning process.
  • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children's day care and sports facilities.
  • An allowance for commuting, working from home and internet costs.
  • A Staff Immigration Team and a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) for international candidates.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • V32.6934


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)

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De Rondom 70, 5612 AP, Eindhoven

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