PhD candidate in experimental atomic physics University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Science – Institute of Physics Netherlands

PhD candidate in experimental atomic physics

Faculty of Science – Institute of Physics

Publication date
28 March 2018

Level of education
Master's degree

Salary indication
€2,222 to €2,840 gross per month

Closing date
1 June 2018

38 hours per week

Vacancy number

We are looking for a highly-motivated student with excellent laboratory skills for performing state-of-the-art atomic physics experiments.


The hybrid atom-ion quantum systems lab, headed by Dr Rene Gerritsma, is part of the Quantum Gases and Quantum Information (QGQI) cluster at the University of Amsterdam. The main focus of the group is to study the quantum dynamics in trapped ions while at the same time developing technology for emerging quantum applications, such as quantum computing and simulation.


More information on our research can be found on the webpage Hybrid atom-ion Quantum Systems.


Project description

In the project you will develop a new quantum simulation platform: trapped ions that are pinned by optical microtraps. Simulating quantum systems on classical computers is extremely hard, as the resources required scale exponentially with system size. This limitation prevents physicists from testing whether microscopic model Hamiltonians of solid-state physics such as the Fermi-Hubbard model correctly predict emergent phenomena in many-body quantum systems (e.g., magnetic phases and phase transitions, superconductivity). Richard Feynman proposed to solve this problem by having well-controlled laboratory quantum systems simulate quantum problems of interest. Such quantum simulators would be the quantum analogue of a wide range of simulators of complex classical physics, ranging from crash test dummies to numerical weather-prediction software. Over the years, a number of laboratory quantum systems have been put to the test as a platform for quantum simulation. Trapped ions are among the most reliable of these systems and several groups have shown impressive progress in trapped ion quantum simulation.


You will answer two questions:

Can we scale up the trapped ion further by using two-dimensional ion crystals?
Can we use optical microtraps to tune the soundwave spectrum in the crystal and use these to simulate quantum magnets?

Since spin-spin interactions between ions are mediated via sound waves, they are very long ranged, as there is no screening of charge in the ion crystal. However, many models that are of interest to quantum simulate require shorter-ranged interaction. In the project, we will pin particular ions in the crystal with optical microtraps to modify the soundwave spectrum such that short range spin-spin interactions become available. These can be used to quantum simulate models of frustrated spin systems that are particularly hard to simulate on classical computers.


Relevant references:

R. Nath, M. Dalmonte, A. W. Glaetzle, P. Zoller, F. Schmidt-Kaler and R. Gerritsma, New J. Phys. 17, 065018 (2015).

Zhang, G. Pagano, P. W. Hess, A. Kyprianidis, P. Becker, H. B. Kaplan, A. V. Gorshkov, Z.-X. Gong, and C. Monroe, Nature 551, 601 (2017).


You hold a MSc. in (theoretical) physics or physical chemistry and are requested to motivate why you apply for the position and to supply a C.V.


Other skills/experiences/documents that would benefit your application are:

  • previous laboratory experience in an atomic physics lab;
  • working knowledge of a programming language (phyton, C++ or equivalent);
  • excellent English oral and written communication skills;
  • scientific publications

To foster diversity in our research group, we will especially appreciate applications from excellent female candidates.


Further information

For informal enquiries about the position please contact:

Rene Gerritsma


The appointment will be on a temporary basis for a period of 4 years (initial appointment will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it can be extended for a total duration of 4 years) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. You are also expected to assist in teaching of undergraduates.


Based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2,222 in the first year to €2,840 in the last year. The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (Cao) is applicable. Favourable tax agreements may apply to non-Dutch applicants.


Job application

You may apply using the link below.

Your application must include:

  • a curriculum vitae;
  • a motivation letter that explains why you have chosen to apply for this specific position with a statement of your research experience and interests and how these relate to this project;
  • title and summary of your Master thesis.

Applications will be processed on a rolling basis, and the position will remain open until a suitable candidate has been identified. (Formal closing date: 1 May 2018). #LI-DNP

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


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