PhD position in quantitative analysis of imaging and analytical techniques in scanning transmission electron microscopy

Updated: 12 days ago

Department: Department of Physics
Regime Full-time

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PhD position in quantitative analysis of imaging and analytical techniques in scanning transmission electron microscopy

The EMAT research group at the department of Physics (University of Antwerp) and the STEM group at the department of Materials (University of Oxford) are seeking to fill a PhD position under the supervision of Prof Sandra Van Aert (University of Antwerp) and Prof Peter D Nellist (University of Oxford). The project goal is to develop a multivariate statistical framework to simultaneously analyse imaging and analytical data in scanning transmission electron microscopy.

The main goal of this project is to realize a major breakthrough in the quantitative analysis of imaging and analytical techniques in scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM). Therefore, we will exploit the physics-based description of the fundamental processes of electron scattering and combine this with a thorough multivariate statistical analysis of the recorded signals. In this manner, we will be able to identify the chemical nature of all individual atoms in three dimensions. So far, imaging and analytical signals have mostly been analysed separately in STEM. Although analytical techniques are in principle well suited because of their elemental specificity, they have a much lower signal to noise ratio as compared to imaging techniques. We foresee that our multivariate method, in which new physics-based models are incorporated to describe the electron-object interaction, enables us to achieve element-specific atom counting at a local scale and to determine even the ordering of the atoms along the viewing direction. Furthermore, our approach will be optimized to reach high elemental measurement precision for a minimum incoming electron dose. This novel dose-efficient quantitative methodology will clearly usher electron microscopy in a new era of 3D element-specific metrology at the atomic scale and allow characterisation of beam-sensitive materials. This will exactly provide the input needed to understand the unique link between a material’s structure and its properties in both materials and in life sciences.

Research group

EMAT is one of the leading electron microscopy centers in the world and has a vast expertise in both fundamental and applied electron microscopy. EMAT has several state of the art electron microscopes including two aberration corrected, high end FEI-Titan instruments, a dual beam FIB, an environmental SEM,... More about us at our webpage .

 Job description

  • The candidate will work on the development of a multivariate statistical framework to simultaneously analyse STEM, EELS, and EDX datasets in a quantitative manner.
  • The PhD candidate prepares a doctoral thesis in the field of sciences.
  • You publish scientific articles related to the research project of the assignment.
  • You present your work at national and international workshops and conferences.
  • You will be employed at the University of Antwerp and closely interact with the team at the University of Oxford involving frequent research stays in Oxford.


  • You hold a Master’s degree with background in e.g. physics, applied physics, materials science or artificial intelligence.
  • You can demonstrate excellent study results.
  • Your research qualities are in line with the faculty and university research policies .
  • You act with attention to quality, integrity, creativity and cooperation.
  • You are enthusiastic and greatly interested in quantitative analysis of electron microscopy data.
  • You can submit outstanding academic results.
  • You are highly motivated, quality-oriented, conscientious, creative and cooperative.

What we offer

  • We offer a doctoral scholarship for a period of 1 year. Following a positive evaluation, the scholarship can be renewed for another 3 years.
  • An exciting project in which we will aim to go significantly beyond the state-of-the-art.
  • The position will be filled as soon as possible. The starting date is between 1st of July 2021 and 1st of October 2021 but will be adapted to the selected candidate’s availability.
  • Your monthly scholarship amount is calculated according to the scholarship amounts for doctoral scholarship holders on the pay scales for contract research staff (Dutch: Bijzonder Academisch Personeel, BAP).
  • You will have the opportunity to be immersed in a world-class, dynamic and stimulating work environment with state-of-the-art instrumentation and computing facilities (see also and ).
  • Find out more about working at the University of Antwerp here .

Want to apply?

  • You can apply for this vacancy through the University of Antwerp’s online job application platform until 3 June 2021 (by midnight Brussels time). Click on the 'Apply' button, complete the online application form and be sure to include the following attachments:
    • a motivation letter (please state for which of the 3 positions you are applying),
    • your academic CV (including followed courses, honours, previous work, programming skills, publications, …)
    • a weblink to a short video introducing yourself,
    • a list and grades of the courses from that you took during your studies (Bachelor and Master)
    • contact info of 2 professional referees.
  • The selection committee will review all of the applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure.
  • If you have any questions about the online application form, please check the frequently asked questions or send an email to Additional information about the job itself can be obtained from: Sandra Van Aert, tel. +32 3 265 3252, or Peter D Nellist, tel. +44 1865 273656, 

The University of Antwerp received the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award for its HR policy. We are a sustainable, family-friendly organisation which invests in its employees’ growth. We encourage diversity  and attach great importance to an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities, regardless of gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age. We encourage people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse characteristics to apply.

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