PhD Position in First-Principles Modelling of Topological Materials or Exciton Physics / Theoretical Spectroscopy
Utrecht University Faculty of Science

2 PhD positions in first-principles modelling of topological materials or exciton physics/theoretical spectroscopy

Job description

We invite applications for two PhD positions in first-principles modelling of topological materials or exciton physics/theoretical spectroscopy. A Postdoctoral Researcher has already been hired and will collaborate closely with the PhD in related topics.

The research programme will be carried out in the team of Associate Professor Zeila Zanolli, at the Condensed Matter and Interfaces Group at the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science. The research concerns the use and development of advanced first-principles (ab initio) techniques to model nanoscale materials, with special focus on topological materials and applications in nanoelectronic and spintronic devices. The investigation of the electronic and magnetic properties is performed using ground state and beyond ground-state (GW approximation, Bethe-Salpeter equation) Density Functional Theory techniques. Non-Equilibrium Green’s Function is used to model time dependent phenomena, such as quantum transport and time-dependent photoluminescence. The investigated systems include 2D layered materials (graphene, transition metal dichalcodenides, …), heterostructures, interfaces, and hybrid materials. Information on the team activities can be found here.


As a successful candidate, you are a curious, dynamic, ambitious and collaborative research student with:

  • a Master's degree in Physics, Chemistry, Material Science, or a related field;
  • strong programming skills (Fortran, Python, parallel computing);
  • a solid background in computational/theoretical material science;
  • previous experience in using electronic structure theory and methods is an advantage;
  • the ability to work independently and productively;
  • excellent writing and oral communication skills in English;
  • the motivation to work in an ambitious, multidisciplinary and international research team.


  • embedding in a dynamic multidisciplinary group. The research activity will be conducted in synergy with other Researchers from the Institute and from our wide international network;
  • a flexible starting date, with a preference for starting in Autumn 2020. Please note that review and interviews of candidates will start immediately and continue until the position is filled;
  • fully funded, full-time position for 4 years;
  • a full-time gross salary starting at €2,395 and increasing to €3,061 per month during the appointment (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (cao));
  • benefits including 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the cao for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment yourself via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow.

More information about working at the Faculty of Science can be found here.

About the organization

The Condensed Matter and Interfaces group centres on the chemistry and physics of solids and interfaces, addressed from both a theoretical and experimental point of view. It involves the study of semiconductor nanostructures with controlled dimensions and more complex architectures (heterostructures, quantum-dot molecules and solids). Condensed Matter and Interfaces is part of the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science at Utrecht University.

At the Faculty of Science there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes which work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

Utrecht University is a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world’s happiest cities. We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our familiar atmosphere and the can-do attitude of our people. This fundamental connection attracts Researchers, Professors and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the university and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international and wonderfully diverse community.

Additional information

If you have any questions about these positions, please contact Associate Professor Zeila Zanolli via

Do you have questions about the application procedure? Please send an email to


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. If you have the expertise and the experience to excel in this role, please respond via the “Apply now” button!

Please enclose:

  • a letter of motivation describing the reasons for your interest in the position; clearly indicate in the beginning of your letter to which of the positions advertised you are applying;
  • your curriculum vitae;
  • the list of exams with grades;
  • two reference letters;
  • your date of availability.

Promising candidates will be invited to an interview. As part of the selection procedure, the candidate will be expected to give a short presentation about his/her Master's research.

If this specific opportunity is not for you, but you know someone who may be interested, please forward the link to them.

Due to the current situation regarding the Corona virus (COVID-19) the process of selection and interviews is subject to change. Initial interviews will most likely be conducted online.

Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

The application deadline is

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


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