PhD Position in Physics: Metal Nanoparticle Nucleation during the Initial Stages of Atomic Layer Deposition

Updated: 3 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 31 May 2024

13 Mar 2024
Job Information

Ghent University

Department of Solid State Sciences
Research Field

Physics » Surface physics
Chemistry » Reaction mechanisms and dynamics
Researcher Profile

First Stage Researcher (R1)

Application Deadline

31 May 2024 - 12:00 (Europe/Brussels)
Type of Contract

Job Status

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


Atomic layer deposition (ALD) is a gas-phase deposition technique to grow conformal thin films on 3D surfaces with sub-monolayer thickness control. However, ALD growth of metals on oxide surfaces typically results in islands growth, yielding oxide-supported metal clusters or nanoparticles. To date, the initial stages of metal ALD –yielding small metal particles– are yet to be understood due to a lack of characterization techniques. This hinders atomic control over the deposited metal clusters of interest in diverse applications, including heterogeneous catalysis.

This PhD project aims to unravel the initial stages of metal ALD nucleation, in particular focusing on how the deposited metal atoms grow into small sub-nm clusters and larger nanoparticles during a different set of metal ALD processes. Therefore, advanced synchrotron-based X-ray characterization techniques will be developed and used to extract novel knowledge on the structural properties of small metal ensembles. This will ultimately yield fundamental knowledge on the impact of the applied ALD process conditions (e.g. precursor/co-reactant choice, temperature, etc.) on the characteristics of the deposited metal nanoparticles during nucleation and grown – hence enabling atomic engineering.

Job description

The PhD thesis will be conducted within the Conformal Coating of Nanomaterials (COCOON) research group at the Department of Solid State Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium ( ). The group is world-renown for the precise fabrication of nanoparticles through atomic layer deposition (ALD) and possesses expertise in X-ray characterization at synchrotron facilities abroad (e.g. Chem. Soc. Rev. 2011, 40, 5242; Nature 2003, 426, 641). The PhD candidate will deposit metallic nanoparticles via ALD and characterize them by utilizing cutting-edge synchrotron methods and advanced modeling techniques. The PhD topic is part of an FWO project, and the PhD candidate will be embedded in a collaborative synchrotron research team. The candidate will have the opportunity to collaborate with experienced researchers and benefit from their guidance and mentorship.

Research Field
Physics » Surface physics
Education Level
Master Degree or equivalent

Research Field
Chemistry » Reaction mechanisms and dynamics
Education Level
Master Degree or equivalent


The PhD candidate must hold a master of science degree in physics, chemistry, engineering or a related discipline and show a strong interest in nanomaterials, structural analysis and synchrotron big data science. Proficiency in Python programming will be essential for handling and processing the substantial amount of data involved in this research. The PhD candidate should be fluent in English and have the strong intention to finish a PhD by the end of the 4-year project.


Additional Information
Selection process

You can apply via email to [email protected] , using the subject line “Application NP structure PhD”. Please provide a full CV including your academic/education history, experience with experimental work and programming, list of publications where applicable. Please also provide a motivation letter. For applicants from non-English speaking countries, please attach copies of recent English language certificates where available. The position will stay open until a suitable candidate is selected, hence we advise to submit your application at your earliest convenience.

Work Location(s)
Number of offers available
Ghent University

Where to apply

[email protected]



Krijgslaan 281/S1
Postal Code



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