PhD Position in Atomic Quantum Physics
University of Amsterdam Institute of Physics

PhD position in Atomic Quantum Physics

Publication date 22 February 2021

Closing date 1 May 2021

Level of education Master's degree

Hours 38 hours per week

Salary indication €2,395 to €3,061 gross per month

Vacancy number 21-113

Are you a highly motivated student who likes performing state-of-the-art atomic physics experiments as well as numerical simulations? Then we are looking for you.

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 (UvA). 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. Dr Arghavan Safavi-Naini has recently joined the Institute of Physics (IoP) at the University of Amsterdam and is part of the QuSoft initiative.

What are you going to do?

You will work in a team that develops a new quantum simulation and computation platform: trapped ions that are pinned by optical microtraps. We aim to use this system as a programmable quantum simulator for quantum many-body dynamics and quantum computation applications. Your project will center on investigation of the role of interaction range, connectivity, and dimensionality in transport and entanglement dynamics in quantum many-body systems both theoretically and experimentally. The project will consist of several interrelated sub-projects that aim to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the functional form of equilibration in systems with long-range vs short-range interactions?
  2. What is the appropriate controlled approximation that captures the transport dynamics in higher dimensional systems?
  3. What is the most experimentally accessible way to create flexible connectivity and create patterns of interest?

In order to explore these topics you will develop state of the art numerical methods based on Matrix Product States (MPS) and Tensor networks. This will allow you to address questions 1 and 2. You will then use both the exact numerics, as well as the approximate techniques, to address question 1 for a variety of connectivity patterns and dimensionality, including 2D triangular lattices, the Bethe lattice, and models such as the SYK model. The methods you develop here will have very broad applications and have the potential to allow for numerical simulation of systems where even the current best exact methods cannot address.

Once we have characterized the behavior of our models theoretically, you will shift your attention to implementing them on the quantum simulation platform. The successful realization of the aforementioned models will be a significant progress in the level of programmability of the trapped ion quantum simulation platforms and on of the first experimental realizations of paradigmatic models such as the SYK model. You will work in a team of two PhD students and a post doc with the aim of implementing quantum simulation models in a trapped ion quantum simulator that is operated in our lab. The work will involve setting up optics, lasers and electronics as well as programming. We will focus in particular on implementing optical forces on the ion crystal that cause local stress or strain on the crystal and use these to further tune the interactions between the ions.

Relevant references:

  • R. Nath et al., New J. Phys. 17, 065018 (2015)
  • Zhang et al., Nature 551, 601 (2017)

What do we require?

We require a MSc. in (theoretical or experimental) Physics or Physical Chemistry and you are requested to motivate why you apply for the position and to supply a CV.

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

  • previous laboratory experience in an atomic physics lab;
  • solid programming skills (in Python, MATLAB, or equivalent) and previous experience in a numerical project;
  • excellent communication skills (English);
  • scientific publications.

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

Our offer

We 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). 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 salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,395 to €3,061 (scale P) gross per month, based on a full-time contract of 38 hours a week. This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

  • Dr Rene Gerritsma

About the Faculty of Science and the Institute of Physics

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 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 international standing.

The Van der Waals - Zeeman Institute for Experimental Physics (IoP-WZI) is part of the IoP and home to three research clusters: Quantum Gases & Quantum Information (QG&QI), Quantum Materials (QMat), and Soft Matter (SM).

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise 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.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 1 May 2021. You may apply online by using the link below. 

Applications in .pdf should include:

  • a curriculum vitae including the contact information of two references;
  • 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;
  • transcript of grades;
  • title and summary of your Master thesis and a pdf copy or a link to it in case it is already completed.

Applications will be processed on a rolling basis, and the position will remain open until a suitable candidate has been identified.

Apply now

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