PhD position in Condensed Matter Physics

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: ;

Are you a highly motivated student looking forward to doing research in a collaborative, interdisciplinary setting? Are you interested in the discovery and understanding of new quantum materials using both experimental and computational techniques?

You will conduct research on novel magnetic topological insulators in a project hosted jointly by the group Ab Initio Quantum Materials (AIQM), led by Dr Irene Aguilera and the group Explorative synthesis of quantum materials (ESQM), led by Dr Anna Isaeva, at the Institute of Physics (IoP) at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). As part of our collaborative effort, you will combine X-ray and neutron diffraction techniques and density functional theory (DFT) to determine and to model the structures of these quantum materials. Applications are now open for a 4-year full-time PhD position; the starting date is foreseen as 1 September 2023. The research will be embedded in a stimulating interdisciplinary and international research environment with local colleagues and international collaborators working in the fields of physics, nanoscience, material science and chemistry.

Topological insulators exhibit novel quantum properties and emergent phenomena at a macroscopic scale at ambient conditions, and possess special electronic band structures in both the bulk and at their surface, which offer exciting prospects for the development of future quantum technologies. Their exotic behaviours are governed by material’s properties, such as the periodic crystal structure and atomic arrangement, spin-orbit coupling and long-range magnetic order.

The ambitious goal of this project is to get insights into the mechanisms governing the magnetic order and electron-band topology in the recently discovered magnetic topological insulators; and to design and find the best-performing candidate materials.

What are you going to do?

In this project, you will:  

  • Conduct original research in the field of topological matter and magnetism, focusing on the forefront family of magnetic topological insulators Mn(Sb,Bi)2Te4 and marrying the theoretical and experimental approaches.
  • Perform DFT calculations of structural, electronic, and magnetic properties of topological materials.
  • Collect and evaluate diffraction data from various scattering sources and determine the crystal structures of magnetic topological insulators.
  • Use the supercomputing infrastructures at Lisa and Snellius; use the advanced x-ray facilities (powder and single-crystal diffractometers), software packages Jana, Olex, Fullprof, etc. and gain versatile, hands-on experience in crystallography;
  • Define and analyse the mechanisms driving the magnetic order in magnetic topological insulators of the family; identify the best-performing materials with the highest Curie temperature for future applications.
  • Present your research results to the international community in peer-reviewed publications and at workshops, conferences, partner meetings.
  • Assist in teaching and co-supervision of undergraduates and Master’s students.
  • Participate in local and international collaborations on quantum materials, including the experimental groups of the Quantum Materials cluster at the IoP, Dutch national consortium “Materials for the Quantum Age” (, the developers of the ab initio codes from Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany, and with magnetism and topology experts at the Leibniz IFW Institute in Dresden, Germany, and within the German Excellence Cluster “Topology and complexity in quantum matter” (
  • Become a member of the leading groups in condensed matter theory and experiment and enter the vibrant, interdisciplinary community researching quantum materials in the Netherlands and EU-wide.

What do you have to offer?

Your experience and profile:

  • A Master’s degree in physics, materials science, chemistry or related fields.
  • Background in condensed matter physics, previous experience (or strong desire to learn) theoretical condensed matter physics, diffraction techniques, crystallography.
  • Desired skills or strong interest to learn them: topological matter, theoretical modelling, structure refinement, materials science.
  • High motivation and ability to work in a collegial, multidisciplinary, international research environment. 
  • Passionate and ambitious attitude to learning and working independently.
  • Excellent communication skills in both oral and written English.

Previous practical experience in performing interdisciplinary research is desirable. Additional experience with computational condensed matter techniques is appreciated, as well as some experience with DFT calculations.

With your background in physics, and affinity for quantum materials science, you are the ideal fit to help elevate our research to the next level. The project offers you a high-level and diverse training in many aspects of modern quantum condensed matter and materials physics and will include, besides the DFT modelling, diffraction experiments and data analysis, also collaborations with the materials growers, experimentalists studying the magnetic properties and device makers.

Our offer

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 September 1, 2023. 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 .

About us

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 Institute of Physics (IoP) of the University of Amsterdam is located in the center of the Amsterdam Science Park. The IoP – as part of the Faculty of Science – is housed in a modern building with excellent labs and technical facilities. Surrounded by several national research institutes and with our partners at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the institute is part of a strong physics center of top international standing.

The mission of the Institute of Physics (IoP) is to carry out excellent research in the field of experimental and theoretical physics, to provide inspiring teaching within the physics and other curricula and to transfer our knowledge of and enthusiasm for physics to society. The IoP has over 50 faculty and 180 researchers in total. The combination with the NWO Institutes at Amsterdam Science Park constitutes the largest physics hub in the Netherlands and is an international centre of excellence.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:

T: +31 20 525 8330

T: +31 20 525 5793

Job application

If you feel the profile fits you, and you are interested in the job, we look forward to receiving your application. You can apply online via the button below. We accept applications until and including the 30th of April.

Applications should include the following information (all files besides your cv should be submitted in one single pdf file ):

  • a detailed CV including the months (not just years) when referring to your education and work experience;
  • a letter of motivation;
  • transcript of grades; 
  • a pdf copy of your Master thesis (or a preliminary version, or at least a summary);
  • the name and email address of two references, who will be asked for their recommendation letters when you are shortlisted.

Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered.

The interviews will be held between the 11th and the 23rd  of May, 2023.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

No agencies please.

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