PhD Position in Advanced Optical Detection of Carbon Nanoparticles University of Leuven, Center for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis



(ref. BAP-2017-704)

Last modified: false

The Center for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis focuses on the design, characterization and application of nanostructured and nanoporous materials for broad applications. The Roeffaers group ( develops optical micro(spectro)scopy tools and assays to study material properties and chemical processes under realistic conditions and this at the smallest time and length scales possible. Currently, coherent Raman and pump-probe microscopy but also single molecule fluorescence microscopy, integrated electron-fluorescence microscopy are used.

Website unit




The main goal of this doctorate is therefore the development of a sophisticated optical technique to identify and classify particulate matter. In particular, the project addresses the following questions: 

  • Can we optically characterize the material composition and size of the particles? If yes, how fast and reliable can this be done?
  • Is this technique applicable to samples with medical and environmental relevance? 


By applying advanced optical (micro)spectroscopy we aim to resolve these problems. Specifically, variations in excitation/absorption dynamics of different nanoparticles as well as their phonon modes, electron-phonon coupling and breathing modes will be targeted. During this PhD, the student will get a thorough training and experience in microspectroscopy, non-linear optics as well as nanotechnology and material science. Furthermore, the economical perspective of potential patentable inventions will be considered. The project is in close collaboration with the groups of prof. Ameloot and prof. Nawrot from Hasselt University as well as industrial partners to explore the valorization of the obtained experimental results.


General project information:


Current ambient outdoor air pollution concentrations are responsible for 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide. The combustion-related particulate matter (PM) air pollution, with special attention in this project to black carbon (BC), increases cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, but also chronic respiratory diseases and lung cancer. Although, the air pollution associations are established as causal, risks might be considerably underestimated due to exposure misclassification. Until now, in most epidemiological studies the exposure to PM air pollution is not measured at the level of individual persons. We recently developed novel optical techniques to detect BC in a label-free manner, which was previously not feasible (Nano Lett. 2016, 16 (5), 3173–3178). However, further research is required to distinguish individual types of particulates (e.g. compositional variations, …) (



We are seeking highly motivated candidates that hold a master in physics and/or nanotechnology related subjects. Experience with non-linear optics, characterization and optical microscopes are particularly welcome. The candidate should be open to interdisciplinary science and collaborations. KU Leuven offers in this respect an ideal environment with a large number of scientific groups working on different(applied) subjects. The university is one of Europe’s oldest academic institutions and is situated in a medium-sized vibrant student town with a large international community.


  • 4 year financial support to pursue a PhD
  • world-class research environment and equipment
  • International research environment


For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Maarten Roeffaers, tel.: +32 16 32 74 49, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than January 15, 2018 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Physicaloxy


All Jobs






Uni Anu

Uni Copenhagen

Uni Gothenburg

Uni Kuwait

Uni Laval

Uni Nus Singapore

Uni Seoul

Uni Simon Fraser

Uni Tcd

Uni Tokio

Uni Unsw