PhD Position in Photonics/Electrical engineering: laser dynamics aided crack detection with optical fiber sensors.

Updated: 4 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 01 May 2024

9 Feb 2024
Job Information

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Applied Physics and Photonics
Research Field

Engineering » Electrical engineering
Physics » Optics
Researcher Profile

First Stage Researcher (R1)

Application Deadline

1 May 2024 - 23:59 (Europe/Brussels)
Type of Contract

Job Status

Hours Per Week

Offer Starting Date

1 Oct 2024
Is the job funded through the EU Research Framework Programme?

Not funded by an EU programme
Is the Job related to staff position within a Research Infrastructure?


Offer Description

Optical fiber-based sensing stands as a cornerstone measurement and detection technology across diverse fields and disciplines, showcasing remarkable efficacy in applications ranging from structural health monitoring in civil engineering to biomedical sensing in healthcare. The detection of ultrasonic guided waves using optical fibres, which could be key enabling for structural health monitoring of aerospace structures, has so far remained out of reach. A breakthrough in terms of sensitivity and detection speed is required. To address this,  we have already explored and successfully demonstrated fiber sensing by ways of laser dynamics. Owing to the fast response time and high-sensitivity of the laser itself, we believe that this approach holds potential for significant advancements in fiber sensor interrogation.   
We have recently won a grant for the project named LADYBIRD, funded by the Research Foundation of Flanders (Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek, FWO). The aim is to put experiment with and investigate the relevance of laser dynamics-based approaches for fiber sensing and apply the technique to the detection of ultrasonic guided waves. In this context, we are looking for an excellent PhD candidate in Photonics/Electrical Engineering (duration = 48 months) to join our team. The research work will include: 

  • The construction of an experimental setup for the precise generation of ultrasonic guided waves.
  • Exploration of diverse strategies for interrogating optical fibers utilizing the intricacies of laser dynamics.
  • A rigorous benchmark of the most promising strategies with a focus on sensitivity and speed against established techniques to ascertain performance enhancements.
  • Collaboration with a second doctoral researchers to optimize the architecture of fiber sensors, fostering synergistic innovation and breakthrough advancements.

The candidate will join the Brussels Photonics (B-PHOT) research group of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in Belgium, . Chaired by Prof. H. Thienpont, the team composed of more than 45 internationally recognized researchers is widely known for its work in fundamental and applied photonics research covering the entire research cycle from modelling and fabrication, to characterization and Proof-Of-Concept. In the last 20 years, the group has built significant expertise in the field of optical fiber sensing applied to real-life and industrial applications, and in the field of semiconductor laser – including modelling, design and on-chip implementation of new laser structures – but also in nonlinear dynamics and chaos-based applications. The candidate will therefore have the opportunity to contribute to these fields in a multidisciplinary setting.  

Starting date: September – October 2024.

Salary: approx. 2000 – 2500 euros a month after tax depending on seniority and personal situation

For more information, please contact Prof. M. Virte ([email protected] ) or Dr. T. Baghdasharyan ([email protected] ).

To apply, please send your detailed CV (including a copy of the Master diploma and a Transcript of records), letters of recommendation, any supporting documents demonstrating technical skills (theses or scientific papers), and an application letter to Prof. M. Virte ([email protected] ) by e-mail before May 1st , 2024.   
If no suitable candidate has been found after the deadline, the position will remain open until it is filled.

If your application is selected based on the CV and accompanying documents, you will be invited for a teleconference interview and online tests.

Research Field
Engineering » Electrical engineering
Education Level
Master Degree or equivalent

Research Field
Physics » Optics
Education Level
Master Degree or equivalent


Research profile:

  • Candidates should possess a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering, Physics, Photonics, Applied Math or related scientific field. Interest in photonic system and light technology are necessary.
  • Knowledge about photonics, photonic integration, sensing, laser physics, nonlinear dynamics or signal processing is a strong plus.
  • Good programming skills are a strong plus. Experience with Matlab, Python or a similar language and environment is a plus. Depending on the skills of the candidate, training can be arranged in the first year of the PhD.
  • Good knowledge of numerical techniques and advanced simulation methods is a plus.
  • Knowledge of photonic circuit simulation tools such as Lumerical FDTD and Interconnect or Photon Design OmniSim and PICWave is a plus.
  • Experience with experimental optical setup and equipment such as optical fiber sensors, fiber interrogators, optical spectrum analysers, laser drivers or amplifiers is a plus.
  • The candidate is expected to be able to carry out the research activities independently and in a critical manner, whilst having excellent communication skills and a positive attitude towards collaboration.
  • Good time management skills are a must, along with the ability to meet tight deadline and work efficiently under pressure.
  • Proficiency in both spoken and written English (typically CEFR level C1 or equivalent) is required. The candidate will have the opportunity to take evening English classes to improve his/her language skills if needed.
  • The candidates should be prepared to travel in Europe and potentially worldwide e.g. for participation in conferences or research stays at partner institutions.

Candidates that have not yet acquired their master’s degree can apply and participate in the selection procedure, but need to offer proof of registration in their Masters programme and need to have complied with all diploma requirements before starting their position at VUB.

The available PhD position has a normal duration of 4 years in Belgium. The progress of the PhD candidate is evaluated every year.

The candidate is expected to endorse the educational vision of the university (full text available on the university website).

Female candidates are particularly encouraged to apply.

Specific Requirements

Proficiency in both spoken and written English (typically CEFR level C1 or equivalent) is required.


Additional Information

The work location will be the VUB Humanities, Science and Engineering campus, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium which is easily accessible by public transports, bike or car.

At VUB, your days will be spent in a dynamic, diverse and multilingual environment. Our main campus is set within green oases on the outskirts of the centre of the capital of Flanders, Belgium and Europe. This centre, with all its opportunities, is within your reach by public transport in under half an hour. As an employee of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, you will receive an attractive salary corresponding to one of the pay scales laid down by the government, depending on your experience and academic merits. Hospitalisation insurance and free use of public transport for travel to and from work are standard conditions of employment. If you would rather cycle to work, compensation is also available for that.

More information is available at  under the heading ‘future employees.

Selection process

The selection process will take place in two steps:

First, the file of each applicant will be carefully screened and reviewed. Well-suited candidates will be selected on this basis.

Second, selected candidates will be invited to a teleconference interview during which they will be asked a broad set of technical and non-technical questions.

Finally, all retained candidates will be ranked based on their academic records and their interview, and the candidate ranked 1st will be offered the position.

Additional comments

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) is a dynamic university with 4 campuses in and around Brussels, one of which is dedicated to photonics research. The university has 8 faculties that accomplish the three central missions of the university: education, research, and service to the community. The faculties cover a broad range of fields of knowledge including natural sciences , classics , life sciences, social sciences , humanities , and engineering. worldwide. With more than 150 internationally recognised research teams, VUB performs high-level fundamental and applied research. Thanks to the creation of more than 20 spin-offs in various domains, VUB plays a prominent role in attracting and instigating new economic activity in and around the Brussels-Capital Region. Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) offers high quality education to more than 21,000 students from 145 nationalities on four campuses in Brussels. VUB has been chosen by the European Commission as one of the first pilot projects for developing a “European University”: the EUTOPIA alliance of 10 European Universities Transforming to an Open Inclusive Academy.

Teaching and research at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel are founded on the principle of unfettered inquiry  to benefit the progress of mankind. This means rejecting dogmatic positions and guaranteeing the freedom to form opinions without interference; in this way the University aims to ensure the dispersal of the principle of unfettered inquiry throughout society.

The University is autonomous and democratically  run. This means guaranteeing the exercise of the fundamental freedoms within the University, as well as the right of the University Community to participate in the decision-making process and scrutiny of University policy.

The following form part of the University’s mission:

  • the development, the communication and the application of a high level of academic education and scientific research, free from all preconceived ideas ;
  • the translation of these ideals and knowledge into society in the spirit of social engagement;
  • the creation of a society in which everyone is capable of engaging in critical thinking.

Work Location(s)
Number of offers available
Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Where to apply

[email protected]



Pleinlaan 2
Postal Code



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