PhD - Metal-Free Perovskites for Energy-efficient Multifunctional Devices

PhD - Metal-Free Perovskites for Energy-efficient Multifunctional Devices

Published Deadline Location
22 Jan 29 Feb Amsterdam
Are you eager to deepen your understanding of material structure and properties, using advanced experimental techniques? Are you excited about working on new materials and contribute to the energy transition?

Job description

Project description

The global energy demand is rising, requiring an urgent acceleration of the energy transition. Ongoing efforts focus on enhancing solar cell efficiency and developing energy-efficient technologies. Piezo-phototronics, an emerging physics concept, combines semiconductor, piezoelectric, and photoactivated properties.[1] In a piezo-phototronic device, the electrical and optical properties can be manipulated through mechanical strain,[2–4] with the potential of improving energy-related device performance. Conventional piezoelectric semiconductors often require high-temperature processes and incorporate environmentally harmful components, encouraging exploration of environmentally friendly alternatives. Metal-free perovskites, an underexplored class of materials, show promise in piezo-phototronic applications.

In this project, metal-free perovskite semiconductors will be designed and developed through compositional engineering using solution processing methods and mechanochemistry. The primary objective of this research project is to advance the fundamental understanding of how to design and fabricate metal-free perovskites with desired optical, electrical, and mechanical properties. This research has the potential to transform the landscape of semiconductors and energy transition technologies, and furthermore explores innovative applications such as single-material multi-sensors and energy harvesters. Moreover, the candidate will have the opportunity to deepen the understanding of the relationship between structure and properties in these materials, employing a combination of experimental techniques, including those reliant on synchrotron radiation such as high pressure and low temperature X-ray diffraction.

[1] B. Dai, G.M. Biesold, M. Zhang, H. Zou, Y. Ding, Z. L Wang, Z. Lin, Piezo-phototronic effect on photocatalysis, solar cells, photodetectors and light-emitting diodes, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2021, 50, 13646-13691,

[2] L. A. Muscarella, A. Dučinskas, M. Dankl, M. Andrzejewski, N. P. M. Casati, U. Rothlisberger, J. Maier, M. Graetzel, B. Ehrler, J. V. Milić, Reversible Pressure-Dependent Mechanochromism of Dion–Jacobson and Ruddlesden–Popper Layered Hybrid Perovskites, Adv. Mater. 2022, 34, 2108720.

[3] L.A. Muscarella, B. Ehrler, The influence of strain on phase stability in mixed-halide perovskites, Joule 2022, 6, 9, 2016-2031,

[4] L.A. Muscarella, H.J. Jöbsis, B. Baumgartner, P.T. Prins, D.N. Maaskant, A.V. Petukhov, D. Chernyshov, C.J. McMonagle, E.M. Hutter, Which Ion Dominates the Temperature and Pressure Response of Halide Perovskites and Elpasolites?, J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2023, 14, 40, 9042–9051,

Your responsibilities:
  • Fabricate novel metal-free perovskites with desired optical and mechanical properties using solution processing methods and mechanochemistry.
  • Explore the optical and mechanical behavior of these innovative metal-free perovskites employing a combination of structural measurements and optical spectroscopy, including advanced characterization techniques such as high pressure and low temperature X-ray diffraction, photoluminescence and UV-Vis spectroscopy, piezoelectric force microscopy.
  • Initiate and lead complementary research collaborations with internal and external partners, such as AMOLF and the Nanolab cleanroom, to tap into diverse expertise and resources.
  • Disseminate your research through peer-reviewed journals and poster/oral contributions at (inter)national conferences.
  • Act as daily supervisor of bachelor and master students during their internships and as teaching assistant to different courses (~10% of the overall PhD time).


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • Master’s degree in chemistry, physics, physical chemistry, chemical engineering, materials science, or a closely related field
  • Strong background in solid state chemistry/physics coupled with a keen interest in material science, specifically in the fabrication and characterization of semiconductors
  • The ideal candidate will have proven experience or a strong motivation to acquire expertise in:
    • Carrying out chemical/physical experiments
    • Characterization techniques such as (but not limited to) X-ray diffraction and/or atomic force microscopy
    • Building and/or operating spectroscopy setups
    • Computational tools and data analysis softwares such as Python, MatLab, Mathematica
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English are very important
  • You have a team-player mentality and a kind and social attitude

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year.

A challenging position in a socially engaged organisation. At VU Amsterdam, you contribute to education, research and service for a better world. And that is valuable. So in return for your efforts, we offer you:
  • a salary of € 2.770,00 (PhD) and maximum € 3.539,00 (PhD) gross per month in the fourth year, for a full-time employment
  • an employment contract of initially 1 year. If there is sufficient perspective, this will be extended to a total of 4 years. Your dissertation at the end of the fourth year forms the end of your employment contract.

We also offer you attractive fringe benefits and arrangements. Some examples:
  • A full-time 38-hour working week comes with a holiday leave entitlement of 232 hours per year. If you choose to work 40 hours, you have 96 extra holiday leave hours on an annual basis. For part-timers, this is calculated pro rata.
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package
  • discounts on collective insurances (healthcare- and car insurance);


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

About our section PhotoConversion Materials
The successful applicant will be appointed as a PhD student in the group of Dr. Loreta A. Muscarella, which is part of the PhotoConversion Materials (PCM) section in the department of Physics and Astronomy at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam (see

The PCM section is a highly interdisciplinary team, working at the interface of physics, chemistry, and materials science to understand fundamental mechanisms of light-matter interaction for light-energy conversion and optical sensing. We host in-house simulation, fabrication, and spectroscopic characterization tools, with great technical research support. Additionally, we have regular access to the nanofabrication and nanocharacterization tools at the AMOLF Nanolab.

By joining our PCM section, you will become part of a diverse group of people, with different scientific backgrounds, nationalities, and expertise. Our aim is to create an inclusive environment that cherishes our diverse backgrounds, leading to groundbreaking science.

By the end of your PhD, you will have become an independent scientist, capable of working effectively in a team, and with excellent communication skills. We take great pride in the growth and development of our students: previous PhD students in our group have won several awards for their scientific achievements and for their communication skills and have immediately secured several jobs offers after graduation.

Faculty of Science
Researchers and students at VU Amsterdam’s Faculty of Science tackle fundamental and complex scientific problems to help pave the way for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, and from molecules to the moon: we cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. Our teaching and research have a strong experimentally technical, computational and interdisciplinary nature.

We work on new solutions guided by value-driven, interdisciplinary methodologies. We are committed to research, valorisation and training socially engaged citizens of the world who will make valuable contributions to a sustainable, healthy future.

Are you interested in joining the Faculty of Science? You will join undergraduate students, PhD candidates and researchers at the biggest sciences faculty in the Netherlands. You will combine a professional focus with a broad view of the world. We are proud of our collegial working climate, characterised by committed staff, a pragmatic attitude and engagement in the larger whole. The faculty is home to over 11,000 students enrolled in 40 study programmes. It employs over 1,600 professionals spread across 10 academic departments.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam stands for values-driven education and research. We are open-minded experts with the ability to think freely. - a broader mind. Maintaining an entrepreneurial perspective and concentrating on diversity, significance and humanity, we work on sustainable solutions with social impact. By joining forces, across the boundaries of disciplines, we work towards a better world for people and planet. Together we create a safe and respectful working and study climate, and an inspiring environment for education and research. Learn more about our codes of conduct

We are located on one physical campus, in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas business district, with excellent location and accessibility. Over 5,500 staff work at the VU and over 30,000 students attend academic education.

Diversity is the driving force of the VU. The VU wants to be accessible and receptive to diversity in disciplines, cultures, ideas, nationalities, beliefs, preferences and worldviews. We believe that trust, respect, interest and differences lead to new insights and innovation, to sharpness and clarity, to excellence and a broader understanding.

We stand for an inclusive community and believe that diversity and internationalisation contribute to the quality of education, research and our services.

Therefore, we are always searching for people whose backgrounds and experience contribute to the diversity of the VU community.

Additional information

Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload the following 3 documents in PDF format:
  • Cover letter of maximum 1 page containing your personal details, your motivation for applying to this position, and highlighting the parts of your CV that make you suited for the position.
  • Full CV, including your experience, your bachelor and master grades, and the contact details of at least two references. It is not required to attach recommendation letters from your references. It would be helpful if the grade list could be accompanied by some explanation of their meaning: for example, if a particular grade corresponds to the top x% of students in your study program.
  • Written report, for example your master thesis, ideally (but not necessarily) written in English.

Applications received by e-mail will not be considered.

Acquisition in response to this advertisement is not appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3635


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1085, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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Application procedure

Application procedure

Make sure to apply no later than 29 Feb 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).