PhD Student to investigate the structural dynamics of multiferroics

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Shaping the future

European XFEL is an international non-profit company located in the Hamburg area in Germany. It operates a 3.4 km-long X-ray laser, which produces X-rays of unique quality for studies in physics, chemistry, the life sciences, materials research and other disciplines. The diverse scientific facilities at European XFEL enable scientists from across the globe to carry out a wide range of experimental techniques.

The Spectroscopy and Coherent Scattering (SCS) instrument enables time-resolved soft and tender X-ray experiments to probe the electronic and structural properties of complex materials, molecules, and nanostructures. Scientific objectives include, but are not limited to, the understanding and control of complex materials, the investigation of ultrafast magnetization processes on the nanoscale, the real-time observation of chemical reactions in liquids, and the exploration of nonlinear X-ray spectrocopy techniques. The two baseline spectroscopic techniques taking place at the SCS instrument are transmission mode XAS and resonant inelastic X-ray scattering enabled by the hRIXS spectrometer.

For our Spectroscopy and Coherent Scattering (SCS) instrument group we are looking for a

PhD Student (f/m/d) to investigate the structural dynamics of multiferroics

The position

Multiferroic materials, with the promise to reduce the energy per memory bit down to 1 aJ, represent an appealing alternative to metal-oxide-semiconductor technology. An example of multiferroic material is one that exhibits both spontaneous ferroelectric polarization and magnetization. To advance the search of efficient multiferroics, a fundamental understanding of the relation between atomic structure and functional properties as well as controlling the dynamics of multiferroics switching is essential. The time-resolved X-ray Standing Wave (tr-XSW) technique can play a crucial role in correlating time-dependent atomic positions with multiferroic properties by measuring atomic positions with picometer spatial and femtosecond temporal resolution. The goal of this PhD project is to establish tr-XSW as a tool to probe the structural dynamics of multiferroics in optical pump – X-ray probe experiments.
The specific tasks include:
  • contribute to the development and commissioning of the tr-XSW setup at the SCS Instrument, and to the performance of tr-XSW experiments on ferroelectric thin films
  • perform XSW experiments at synchrotron light sources to characterize the sample atomic positions in the ground state, as well as second harmonic generation (all-optical laboratory experiments) to probe the dynamics of ferroelectric polarization
  • develop tools for data analysis and simulation of expected results


  • Master’s degree or equivalent in Physics, nanosciences, engineering physics or in a related discipline
  • programming skills using Python is considered an asset
  • ability to work outside usual office working hours (during shift beamtimes working times include nights and weekends)
  • good communication skills in English and ability to work in an international and multi-disciplinary team

For additional information, please contact Dr. Giuseppe Mercurio ( or Dr. Andreas Scherz ( .

Working place will be Schenefeld in the Hamburg metropolitan area. General information on working in Germany, the Hamburg area and the European XFEL can be found under

Our offer

The European XFEL GmbH employs a diverse, broadly international staff. Become part of a vibrant international and multi-cultural team of scientists, engineers, technical and administrative staff. Be involved in cutting edge scientific and technical progress, participate in our international networks, and shape your life upon trust based flexible working times and telecommuting options. Experience our atmosphere of tolerance and respect.
The PhD positions are fully funded for a duration of three years. In justified cases an extension is possible.
Salary amounts to 75% of pay group 13 for civil servants in Germany (TVöD Bund). Further benefits are similar to those of public service organizations in Germany. In addition, European XFEL provides a non-contributory company pension scheme, broad relocation benefits, a subsidized job-ticket for the local public transportation system, as well as our brand-new company restaurant BeamStop. Company language is English, non-German candidates hired from abroad receive an international allowance.
The European XFEL PhD program goes far beyond classical PhD studies. You will have the opportunity to advance your professional, personal and methodical abilities for boosting your scientific career.

Reference number



This appointment is limited to 3 years.


07 October 2020


Please apply online and provide a motivation letter and your CV in English as well as certificates in one single pdf-file.

Applicants with disabilities will be given preference over other equally qualified applicants The European XFEL GmbH is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer and encourages applications from women

To apply for this job please visit