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PhD Fellowship in Molecular Laser Spectroscopy 2017, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Publish Date: Feb 07, 2017

Deadline: Mar 01, 2017

PhD candidate in Molecular Laser Spectroscopy

Faculty of Science – Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences

The Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) is one of eight institutes of the University of Amsterdam Faculty of Science. HIMS performs internationally recognized chemistry and molecular research, curiosity driven as well as application driven. This is done in close cooperation with the chemical, flavour & food, medical and high-tech industries. Research is organised into four themes: Sustainable Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Computational Chemistry and Molecular Photonics.

The Molecular Photonics group is active in various areas of photophysical and photochemical research. One of the special areas is astrochemistry, aimed to enhance the interplay between chemistry and astronomy research by bringing state-of-the-art chemistry research to astronomical applications.

Project and job description

Currently, the analysis and interpretation of astronomical data relies on Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) models that use low-resolution, laboratory spectroscopic data obtained under conditions that are not compatible with conditions in space, and on theoretical calculations at a level that require post-processing to obtain agreement with experimental data. The present project will use recently developed laser spectroscopic techniques to acquire high-resolution infrared absorption spectra of isolated, cold PAHs and related compounds of astronomically relevant sizes in all relevant wavelength regions. These experimental spectra will be used to validate state-of-the-art quantum chemical calculations and extend such calculations to large PAHs. This combination allows to

  1. show how the vibrational signatures of PAHs are affected by anharmonicity and Fermi resonances;
  2. provide much-needed means to compare the relative intensities of AIBs in different wavelength regions;
  3. elucidate how substituents and chemical modifications work through in spectral signatures, and
  4. pave the way for the identification of so-called grandPAHs.

At the same time, these studies will provide high-resolution electronic excitation spectra that are of interest in the context of identifying the carriers of Diffuse Interstellar Bands. Overall, the project will lead to PAH models that are far superior to the ones employed at the moment, and thereby to a far better understanding of the origin and evolution of interstellar PAHs and of their role in the universe.

The PhD candidate will be appointed at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in a joint project with the Radboud University (RU). At the UvA high-resolution IR and UV spectroscopic studies will be performed on PAH species of different shapes, sizes and composition using table top lasers. At the RU spectroscopic experiments will be performed using the FELIX Free Electron Laser facilities that allow for IR studies at longer wavelengths. The PhD candidate will be appointed within the framework of the Dutch Astrochemistry Network (DAN-II), recently funded by the Dutch Science Organization NWO. This is a highly interdisciplinary network combining the astronomical and chemical expertise in the Netherlands with the goal of understanding the origin and evolution of molecules in space and their role in the Universe. This PhD project is part of a coherent DAN-II program involving astrochemical and astrophysical experiments, quantum chemical calculations, and laboratory spectroscopy of astronomically relevant species in combination with an active program on modeling and observations of astronomical sources. The experimental work will be complemented by theoretical support from the Leiden Observatory and NASA Ames Research Center. We furthermore will work closely with the NASA Ames Research Center group that has in the past recorded spectra under matrix isolation conditions.


For this position the required background is a MSc. degree in a relevant field (physics, astronomy or chemistry). We are looking for PhD candidates who have an affinity with experimental physical chemistry. In addition, we are looking for candidates who can work both independently and as a team member. Good communication skills in the English language are essential. Due to administrative aspects the project should start as soon as possible. Therefore we will preferably consider candidates that are currently in Europe.


The full-time appointment will be on a temporary base for a maximum period of four years (18 months plus a further 30 months after a positive evaluation) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. Based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2.191 in the first year to €2.801 in the final year, according to the Dutch salary scales for PhD candidates. This is excl. 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end of year bonus. The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities is applicable.

Job application

Applications for the position at the University of Amsterdam may be submitted by sending your application to To process your application immediately, please quote vacancy number 17-036 and the position you are applying for in the subject-line.

Applications must include a curriculum vitae, a list of publications, a motivation letter (why did you choose to apply for this position), and the name(s) and contact details of one or two academic referees. All these should be grouped in one PDF attachment.

The selection process commences immediately, but will close when suitable candidates have been found. Any other correspondence in response to this advertisement will not be dealt with.

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

This opportunity has expired. It was originally published here:

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