PhD Position in Tracking Laser-Induced Interactions in Materials Via Real-Time Ion Beam Analysis
Catholic University of Leuven Department of Physics and Astronomy

You will be part of the institute for Quantum Solid-State Physics (QSP) at the department of Physics and Astronomy of the KU Leuven. KU Leuven, established in 1425, ranks number 45 on the Times Higher Education list. Moreover, according to the Reuters ranking, it is the seventh most innovative university worldwide (number one in Europe, after six American universities). You will join several other postdoctoral researchers, PhD students and staff carrying out experimental research on condensed matter physics. You will have access to a wide range of in-house experimental facilities for sample preparation and characterization (e.g. In addition, for a limited number of dedicated experimental campaigns, you will have the opportunity to use unique experimental techniques at international large-scale facilities, such as the Tandetron facility at iThemba LABS (South Africa) and the European synchrotron radiation facility (ESRF, France).


Thermal treatment of (nanoscale)materials is a standard approach to tailor their properties and/or to induce achemical reaction between the constituents. Using a fs laser to provide theheat, rather than a classical furnace approach, results in extremely fastheating and quenching whereby thermodynamic equilibrium is not reached.Therefore, the system can be driven towards a metastable phase.

The objective of this PhD is toinvestigate the nanoscale interactions and phase formation during laserirradiation. The model system that will be used is the reaction of thin metallayers on a semiconductor (Si, Ge, GeSn…). Since such systems are a crucialcomponent of current and future microelectronics devices, good control andthorough understanding of the phase formation and phase stability is essential.

The key novelty of our methodologyis that we will perform ion beam analysis in real time, i.e. during the laserirradiation – a worldwide unique approach. To this end, a laser will be coupledto the 3 MV Tandetron accelerator at iThemba LABS, South Africa. The largeamounts of spectra will be analyzed using artificial neural networks. Besidesion beam analysis, a wide variety of complementary techniques will be used toinvestigate the structural and functional properties of the materials, such asX-ray diffraction, Raman spectroscopy or atom probe tomography. In particular,the latter is an extremely powerful technique which, based on field evaporationof atoms from a needle-shaped sample, provides the chemical composition at theatomic level.

Promotor: Prof. Dr. A. Vantomme (Dept.Physics, KU Leuven)

Requiredbackground: physics, materialscience, engineering


We are looking for a highlydriven candidate, motivated to work in an international research team, in aninternational environment.

Candidates must hold a Master’s degreein Physics, Engineering or Nanotechnology, with a strong background insolid-state physics. Interest and strong background on computer programming andsimulation will be regarded as highly advantageous.

Proficiency in the Englishlanguage is also required, as well as good communication skills, both oral andwritten.


We offer afull-time PhD student position, in a dynamic scientific environment at a top internationaluniversity.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. André Vantomme, tel.: +32 16 32 75 14, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than June 30, 2020 via the
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
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: June 30, 2020
  • Tags: Natuurkunde en Sterrenkunde

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


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