Joint CERN-NTNU PhD Research position in Plasmonics, electron field emission and breakdown...

Updated: 2 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 08 Mar 2021

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About the position

We hereby announce a joint PhD between CERN and the Department of Physics at the NTNU, with application deadline 28.02.2021. The appointment has a total duration of three years with an eventual possibility of an extension of 0.5 years at the NTNU.  The position is co-financed by NTNU and CERN.

Information about CERN

At CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe. Using the world's largest and most complex scientific instruments, they study the basic constituents of matter - fundamental particles that are made to collide together at close to the speed of light. The process gives physicists clues about how particles interact, and provides insights into the fundamental laws of nature. Find out more on . In addition to an exciting career opportunity, CERN offers a comprehensive benefits package, see: The benefits of working at CERN | Careers at CERN . For a presentation of the Compact Linear Collider see:  The Compact Linear Collider | CERN ( .

Information about the physics department NTNU

The position is on the NTNU side organized in the Department of Physics. Currently, there are 27 professors, 10 associate professors, 7 adjunct professors, 70 PhD research fellows and 24 postdoctoral researchers appointed at the Department of Physics.

The Department’s research spans a broad spectrum of natural sciences and technology, which in turn allows us to offer an education that provides a solid basis for future careers. Physics research is carried out in experimental as well as theoretical fields, often across conventional boundaries between disciplines trough external collaborations. The Department’s central research areas are nanoscience, materials science, biophysics, surface physics, modern optics, astrophysics, solar energy, soft matter physics, and medical technology. Research staff at the Department makes a special effort to increase the awareness and understanding of the importance and impact of physics in society. Further information is available at  .

Job description

We are seeking a PhD student interested in taking the challenge of studying surface plasmon waves (and other surface waves) and their role played in the so-called vacuum breakdown phenomena (lightening sparks) in high-gradient particle accelerators. The conditions for generating surface plasmons are considered strongly present in  high-gradient accelerating structures like those developed for linear colliders.  Very high electric field strengths are necessary in order to accelerate particles within a reasonable distance to the TeV-range energies required for particle collision experiments beyond the current state of the art hence expanding our knowledge. The candidate will study electron field emission phenomena related to the excitation of surface waves on  theoretical/numerical and experimental levels. The experiments will involve manufacturing of experimental structures which will be studied with surface science tools. The work is expected to require a combined theoretical/numerical and experimental effort, which is emphasised in the composition of the supervision team.  Furthermore, the candidate will analyse the high-field data produced in the context of the Compact Linear Collider project, CLIC, and in view of the surface wave breakdown hypothesis. The candidate will have the opportunity to manufacture structures emulating/demonstrating the surface plasmon based electron emission process using the NTNU Nanolab manufacturing facilities in combination with the NTNU surface science set-up and optics facilities.

Motivation beyond accelerator physics

Although the primary aim of the project is directly focused on an important topic for accelerator physics, it is also important in terms of using electrons to launch surface plasmon polaritons for high speed all optical circuits for communications, or for sensing applications. Furthermore, nanoplasmonics is a fascinating topic, widely used in a range of sciences, where the confinement and enhancement of the electric field in an electromagnetic wave is explored for e.g. single molecule detection sensors using weak processes such as Raman and multiphoton spectroscopy. Other applications can be resonant thermal heating of nanoparticles with applications in cancer treatment, or hot electron charge transfer processes in catalysis and photovoltaics. Furthermore, the use of surface plasmons for photo-electron emission is envisaged explored to the manufacture of better electron sources with a clear application to efficient electron guns/electron sources for use in e.g. electron microscopes.

This PhD project thus gives experience from working in multiple and international environments, and touches topics ranging from particle physics and accelerator physics, surface science, numerical physics, nanomanufacturing to optics and electromagnetics.


The local supervision at CERN will be carried out by Walter Wuensch and Sergio Calatroni. The PhD candidate will be integrated in the team of post-docs and PhD that use the pulsed dc system and the radio frequency XBoxes for high-gradient studies and also carry out advanced radio frequency simulations.

The local supervision at NTNU will be carried out by Prof. Kildemo, Prof. Justin Wells and Prof. Ingve Simonsen The project is hosted on the NTNU side by the department of physics (NTNU), in particular the nanophotonics and polarimetry group in the condensed matter section of the department of physics (M. Kildemo, webpage: ), the photo-emission group of the QuSpin initiative (Prof. Justin Wells, webpage:  ), the numerical science group in the theory section (I. Simonsen; webpage: ).

Joint supervision with CERN will operate principally through a mixture of personal visits of supervisors from NTNU to CERN, and video conferences between CERN and NTNU.


We seek highly motivated candidates with a completed M.Sc. degree in Physics, Optical physics/nanophotonics, Nanotechnology, Materials Science or related areas. The position requires a documented background in classical electromagnetism, and scientific programming. It is preferable with competence in experimental research and data analysis.  The candidate should clearly be interested in accelerator physics. Candidates with both knowledge of electromagnetics (and plasmonics), (photo) electron emission spectroscopies, or particle physics with an interest in experimental physics, and/or students from the Cern technical student program are well suited candidates. Candidates with experience in optics (plasmonics, Computational ElectroMagnetics), and clean room device fabrication are also encouraged to apply.

Candidates must hold a passport from one of CERN’s Member States or Associate Member States  . In the framework of the Norwegian Doctoral Student Programme, preference will be given to candidates that already have a relation to NTNU  , but this is not an absolute requirement. Candidates shall be based at NTNU for half of the time of the project, while the second half will be carried out at CERN in Geneva—the detailed planning of the distribution of time will be worked out in agreement with supervisors at NTNU and CERN as a function of the project.

The candidate must be willing to organize and undertake the necessary moving between Trondheim and Geneva.

Additionally, the project will be driven by a collaborative approach and international experience or experience in collaborative projects will be beneficial. The successful applicant should be highly competent, motivated, ambitious and with excellent English qualifications. The candidate must be willing to perform travelling.

The regulations for PhD programs at NTNU state that a Master degree or equivalent with at least 5 years of studies and an average grade of A or B within a scale of A-E for passing grades (A best) for the two last years of the MSc is required. Candidates from universities outside Norway are kindly requested to send a Diploma Supplement or a similar document, which describes in detail the study and grade system and the rights for further studies associated with

the obtained degree:

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant .

We offer
Salary and conditions

The Ph.D.-candidate must be admitted to a Ph.D.-programme at NTNU and the doctoral programme at Cern. The Ph.D.-candidate is hired at NTNU for the first 1.5 years with salary from NTNU and pension and social security etc. regulated in Norway. Applicants must agree to participate in organized doctoral study programs within the period of the appointment and the candidate has to be qualified for the PhD-study. The position as PhD is remunerated according to the Norwegian State salary scale. There is a 2% deduction for superannuation contribution. The Ph.D.-candidate is then hired at Cern for 1.5 years with salary from Cern, no income tax but a very favorable health insurance from Cern, but with no pension funds earnings in Norway for the period of time at Cern.  The length of the period at NTNU and at Cern respectively can for scientific reasons  be adjusted to some (smaller) extent in agreement with Cern. If good reasons, the Ph.D.-candidate can come back to NTNU for 6 months after the stay at Cern – payed by the lump sum from NTNU (which accounts to a two years Ph.D.-position at NTNU).

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

Applications with CV, certificates from both Bachelor and Master, possible publications and other scientific works, copies of transcripts and reference letters should be submitted.

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. 

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

Further technical information about the position can be obtained from (NTNU side) Professor Morten Kildemo, Department of Physics, NTNU, email: , professor Justin Wells, Department of Physics, NTNU, email:  or professor Ingve Simonsen, NTNU, e-mail: ingve.simonsen .  Further technical information about the position from the Cern side can be obtained from Walter Wuench, email:  or Sergio Calatroni, email: Calatroni  . Questions with regards to administrative issues concerning the position can be addressed to Jens Vigen (Cern),  or Nina Elisabeth Sindre (NTNU), email:  .

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI) .

If you are invited for interview you must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number NV-22/21 when applying.

Application deadline: 08.03.21

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