PhD Student to study the structure and dynamics of free metal oxide nanoparticles by lasers and FELs

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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 SQS (Small Quantum Systems) instrument is dedicated to investigations of fundamental processes of light-matter interaction in the soft X-ray wavelength regime. Typical targets are isolated species in the gas phase, such as atoms, molecules, ions, clusters, nanoparticles and large bio-molecules. The main applications focus on processes occurring under irradiation with ultra-short, highly intense X-ray pulses using a variety of spectroscopic techniques.

The Small Quantum Systems (SQS) instrument group is looking for a

PhD Student (f/m/d) to study the structure and dynamics of free metal oxide nanoparticles by lasers and FELs

The position

The past years have shown a tremendous advance in the synthesis, characterization, and surface functionalization of nanoparticles with special boost in the field of electromagnetically interacting plasmonic nanoparticles, with applications in a large variety of fields. Technologically relevant nanoparticles typically exhibit a structural complexity such that the particle behavior gets very far from what is expected assuming it as a sphere made of the same number of atoms. The complex geometric and electronic structures affect in a non-trivial way the nanoparticle functional properties.
This PhD research project aims at establishing well-assessed routes for preparing metal and metal oxide nanoparticles with controlled doping, stoichiometry, and defect engineering thus providing a means for obtaining a sample library for tailored materials dedicated to light harvesting and photocatalytic applications. In addition, the development of these methodologies and the possibility to couple them to table-top as well as large scale facility optical and X-ray laser sources will be exploited to investigate the structure and dynamics of isolated complex metal and metal oxide nanoparticles in their interaction with intense fields and upon exposure to reactive species and/or thermal excitation.
The specific tasks include:
  • realization of a research project dedicated to the investigation of structure and dynamics of free metal oxide nanoparticles by lasers and FELs
  • develop an experimental set-up for gas-phase experiments on complex metal and metal oxide clusters. The core element of the set-up will be a molecular beam apparatus equipped with a Pulsed Microplasma Cluster Source (PMCS). The source will have to be upgraded to enable experiments on oxide clusters with controlled stoichiometry using pulsed light sources
  • design, prepare and perform spectroscopy, spectrometry and scattering experiments on metal oxide clusters in the gas phase using optical lasers, synchrotron radiation and X-ray free electron laser sources
  • take active part in the ongoing experiments realized at the SQS instrument
  • dissemination of the scientific results through publications and participation to international conferences and by preparation of the PhD thesis and participation in the PhD program of the European XFEL


  • Master’s degree in Physics or other relevant discipline
  • ideally, a strong background in ion and electron spectroscopy on gas phase targets and in supersonic beam methodologies, or at least in either of the two topics
  • previous experience with optical lasers and synchrotron / FEL sources and familiarity with vacuum technologies will be considered an asset
  • ability to work regularly outside usual office working hours (during shift work periods working times include nights and weekends)
  • good communication skills and ability to work in an international and multi-disciplinary team with English as working language

For additional information, please contact Dr. Tommaso Mazza ( or Dr. Michael Meyer ( .

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 reference letters 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.

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