PhD Position in Dark Matter Search with Liquid Xenon Detectors

PhD Position in Dark Matter Search with Liquid Xenon Detectors

Published Deadline Location
27 Feb 17 Apr Amsterdam

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Job description

Would you like to work with a passionate, international team of scientists, engineers, and technicians to build world-class dark matter detectors in deep-underground research labs? Are you a motivated, creative team-player who enjoys problem solving and learning new skills? We offer a PhD project that has it all: experiment design, construction, operation, computing, data analysis, and interpretation at the cutting edge of astroparticle physics.

What are you going to do?

You will work within the Nikhef Dark Matter group and will become a member of the XENON and DARWIN collaborations and the XLZD consortium. The XENONnT dark matter detector, operated by the XENON collaboration, is currently taking data. The future DARWIN/XLZD detector is expected to enable a varied physics program with sensitivity to several dark matter candidates as well as to neutrino interactions. The Nikhef Dark Matter group has made significant contributions to the XENON1T and XENONnT data acquisition system and read-out software, as well as to the mechanical design of detector components. The group is furthermore active in operation and various data analysis tasks of the XENONnT detector. Locally at Nikhef, the Dark Matter group operates a small liquid-xenon TPC for R&D purposes, and a setup to study material properties at the wavelengths of liquid xenon scintillation.

You are expected to contribute to analysis of data from the currently running XENONnT detector, as well as to detector operation. You will use the insights gained from this to contribute to the design of the future DARWIN/XLZD detector. The latter includes a simulation/modelling component, as well as measurements at the Nikhef labs to characterise materials to be used in DARWIN. The overall focus of the project is on investigating sources of low intensity light and charge signals observed in liquid-xenon TPCs, and on mitigating them in future detectors to make the detectors more sensitive to low-energy signals, such as those from solar neutrinos. The physics analysis could focus on solar neutrinos or low-mass WIMPs, or on another low-energy process you are interested in.

You will be stationed at Nikhef in Amsterdam, with occasional visits to LNGS in Italy, where the XENONnT detector is located. Regular travel to international (collaboration)meetings will also be required.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


Your experience and profile:
  • obtained, or are close to obtaining, a master's degree (or equivalent) in physics
  • strong interest in data analysis, modelling, and simulation, as well as in detector design/measurement techniques
  • good software skills are a prerequisite (as demonstrated in any common programming language), and you will be expected to learn Python and possibly some C++
  • prior experience in data analysis and statistical methods, in modelling and simulation, and/or in detector design and operation (vacuum systems, gas handling systems, scintillation detectors, PMTs, SiPMs, optics, etc.)
  • excellent verbal and written communication skills in the English language.

Conditions of employment

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). The preferred starting date is as soon as possible. This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and dependent on relevant experience, ranges between € 2,541 to € 3,247 (scale P). This does not include 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% year-end allowance. A favourable tax agreement, the '30% ruling', may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Universities of the Netherlands is applicable.

Besides the salary and a vibrant and challenging environment at Science Park we offer you multiple fringe benefits:
  • 232 holiday hours per year (based on fulltime) and extra holidays between Christmas and 1 January;
  • multiple courses to follow from our Teaching and Learning Centre;
  • a complete educational program for PhD students;
  • multiple courses on topics such as leadership for academic staff;
  • multiple courses on topics such as time management, handling stress and an online learning platform with 100+ different courses;
  • 7 weeks birth leave (partner leave) with 100% salary;
  • partly paid parental leave;
  • the possibility to set up a workplace at home;
  • a pension at ABP for which UvA pays two third part of the contribution;
  • the possibility to follow courses to learn Dutch;
  • help with housing for a studio or small apartment when you're moving from abroad.
Are you curious to read more about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits, take a look here.


Faculty of Science

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 8,000, as well as 1,800 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The University of Amsterdam Institute of High Energy Physics(IHEF) group is embedded in Nikhef, the national institute for subatomic physics in the Netherlands. Approximately 175 physicists and 75 technical staff members work together in an open and international scientific environment at Nikhef. Jointly, they perform excellent theoretical and experimental research in the fields of particle- and astroparticle physics. Among the research collaborations Nikhef participates in are the ATLAS, LHCb and ALICE experiments at CERN, the KM3NeT neutrino telescope in the Mediterranean, the Virgo interferometer in Pisa, the XENON dark matter detector in Gran Sasso, Italy and the Pierre Auger cosmic ray observatory in Argentina. Nikhef is a collaboration between six major Dutch universities and the Nikhef research institute. The group is also part of GRAPPA, a collaboration between UvA's IoP and API institutes.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • max. €2541 per month
  • University graduate
  • 11255


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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Science Park 904, 1098XH, Amsterdam

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