PhD-student: Materials Theory and Modeling

Date posted December 16, 2021
Type PhD positions

The Institute of Physics (IoP ) and the Advanced Research Center for Nanolithography (ARCNL) are expanding ARCNL’s Materials Theory and Modeling group and have an opening for a fully funded PhD position from Spring 2022.

In this project the PhD candidate will use cutting edge computational modeling techniques to investigate performance limiting and enhancing atomic scale phenomena at surfaces and heterogeneous interfaces. Working closely with experimental collaborators within ARCNL and with industrial partners, the PhD candidate will use computational models to elucidate and predict adhesion and friction behaviour for relevant coatings. Specifically, they will use density functional theory (DFT) and molecular dynamics (MD) to understand the effect of bulk properties, surface termination, defects, and roughness on adhesion, and contact dynamics at close contact interfaces. Dependent on the successful PhD candidate’s expertise and progress, the project can in the later stages be expanded to also include larger scale simulation techniques, such as Monte Carlo simulations, and materials discovery.

This position would suit a highly motivated candidate looking for a challenging computational and theoretical project. The position will involve close collaboration with fellow members of the Materials Department at ARCNL and researchers at industrial partners. Ability and willingness to work as a part of a collaborative team is essential, as is flexibility, responsiveness to changing research focus, and problem solving. The successful candidate should show high self-motivation and diligence.  

About the group

The Advanced Research Centre for Nanolithography (ARCNL) focuses on the fundamental physics and chemistry involved in current and future key technologies in nanolithography, primarily for the semiconductor industry. ARCNL is a public-private partnership between the Dutch Research Council (NWO), the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the VU University Amsterdam (VU) and the semiconductor equipment manufacturer ASML. ARCNL is located at the Science Park Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and is a thriving research community of approximately 100 scientists and support staff.

 The mission of the Institute of Physics (IoP) is to carry out excellent research in the field of experimental and theoretical physics, to provide inspiring teaching within the physics and other curricula and to transfer our knowledge of and enthusiasm for physics to society. The IoP has over 50 faculty and 180 researchers in total. The combination with the NWO Institutes at Amsterdam Science Park constitutes the largest physics hub in the Netherlands and is an international centre of excellence. 

The Materials Theory and Modeling group focuses on atomic scale modeling of solid-state materials and materials discovery. Pushing materials to the extreme limits, materials for novel lithography technologies require atomic level understanding in order to predict, comprehend, and control their properties. Using cutting-edge modeling techniques, the Materials Theory and Modeling group conducts simulations of bulk, surface, thin-films, and interface systems to explore and design materials for nanolithography.


You should have a MSc or equivalent in Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science or a related subject. Good verbal and written English are required. Ability to clearly communicate research results to a wide variety of audiences and mediums is essential. Pre-existing research experience in materials theory and modeling, especially in density functional theory, static-lattice, and molecular dynamics, as evidenced by research experience, is advantageous. Experience with one or more of the following computational modeling tools: CP2K, VASP, Quantum Espresso, Castep, LAMMPS, DL_POLY, GULP, Gaussian, or equivalent and ability to write, run, and correct Python (or other language) code is also advantageous, but not a prerequisite. Previous experience with working with experimental and industrial partners is beneficial.

Terms of employment

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of four 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 four 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 €2,434 to €3,111 (scale P) gross per month, based on a fulltime contract (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.

Contact info

Dr. Emilia Olsson

Group leader Materials Theory and Modeling

Assistant Professor of Physics at Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA)


Please respond to this vacancy online via

As part of your application please enclose

  1. Resume
  2. Motivation letter (maximum 1 page) expressing your research interests (previous and future), interest in the project, why you would want to join ARCNL and the Materials Theory and Modelling group, and how you meet the criteria laid out in the advert. Names and contact details of two references should also be supplied.

Your application will only be considered if it contains both documents. Incomplete applications will be discarded without further review.

Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

Online screening may be part of the selection.

Applications will not be accepted through any other medium and commercial activities in response to this advertisement is not welcomed.