Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER)
Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER)
The Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research DIFFER wants to conduct leading fundamental research in the fields of fusion and solar fuels, in close partnership with academia and industry.
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Published: 8 days ago
Application deadline: Aug 31
Location: Eindhoven, Netherlands
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DIFFER (Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research) is one of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) institutes and focuses on a multidisciplinary approach to energy research, combining physics, chemistry, engineering and materials science. The institute is based on two main strands, solar fuels for the conversion and storage of renewable energy and fusion-energy as clean and unlimited source of energy. DIFFER is developing and supporting a national network on fundamental energy research and is closely collaborating with academic institutions, research institutes and industry. As of 2015 the institute is located in a new building at the campus of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e).

The present vacancy is for a shared PhD position between the Nanomaterials for Energy Applications (NEA) group of dr. Andrea Baldi and the Photonics for Energy (PfE) group of prof. dr. Jaime Gomez Rivas.

Scientific aim: 

It has been recently shown that it is possible to control the rate of chemical reactions by strong coupling of molecular transitions to the vacuum electromagnetic field. For this purpose, chemical reactions are typically confined within a closed optical cavity composed of two parallel mirrors spaced by a controlled distance. The present research project studies how strong coupling affects the rate of chemical reactions, using open cavities made of plasmonic nanoparticle arrays. The arrays will be fabricated using e-beam and nano-imprint lithography techniques available at the Nanolab@TU/e. Strong coupling between collective plasmonic modes and electronic or vibrational modes of the reactant and product molecules will be achieved by tuning the cavity resonance frequency to the desired molecular transitions. Compared to classical optical cavities, the proposed nanophotonic geometry has the promise of a much greater ease of operation, spectral modulation, and detection of the reaction products.

Responsibilities and tasks: 

The proposed research is perfectly aligned to the current strategy at DIFFER, focused on fundamental research on novel materials, processes, and devices for energy conversion. The research tasks are highly interdisciplinary, ranging from nanophotonics modeling, to optical microscopy and spectroscopy, to the characterisation of catalytic reactions. In particular, you will:

  • Select suitable model catalytic reactions to study under the strong coupling regime.
  • Perform numerical modeling of the optical modes of the cavity and find optimal nanoparticle array geometries.
  • Assemble a flow cell microscopy setup and study catalytic rates under strong coupling regimes.
  • Write scientific publications and present your work at national and international conferences.


We seek an outstanding candidate that is willing to work in an international and interdisciplinary team of physicists and chemists. You should have a recent Master degree in physics, chemistry, materials science or a closely related field. Prior experience in numerical modeling, nanophotonics, or optical microscopy and spectroscopy is not required, but is considered a plus. You should also have excellent verbal and written communication skills in English.

Employment conditions: 

Our institute offers a first class and international research environment with various interdisciplinary but related research topics and projects. When fulfilling a PhD position at DIFFER, you will have an employee status as junior scientist at NWO. You can participate in all the employee benefits NWO offers. NWO and DIFFER have number of regulations that support employees in finding a good work-life balance. Such as conditions for teleworking, partly paid parental leave and the possibility to purchase and sell holiday leave. You will get a contract for four years. Your salary will be up to a maximum of 2,879 euro gross per month. The salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8 percent and an end-of-year bonus of 8.33 percent. A training programme is part of the agreement. You and your supervisor will design a plan for the additional education and supervising that you specifically need. The doctoral degree will be awarded by the Eindhoven University of Technology(www.tue.nl). General information on working at DIFFER and NWO can also be found at the working at DIFFER  website (https://www.differ.nl/working-at )

Further information: 

The NWO Recruitment code applies to this position. At DIFFER we believe that a workforce diverse in gender, age and cultural background is key to performing excellent research. We therefore strongly encourage applications from women and minorities. In our institute physicists, chemists, engineers and other specialists work together in multidisciplinary teams to accelerate the transition to a sustainable society. DIFFER’s workforce is currently composed of 150 scientists (of which 60 guests and interns), supported by 40 technicians and 30 support staff members. The global nature of the energy challenge is apparent from the international representation of our employees, who originate from over 30 different countries. To strengthen our commitment to diversity, in January 2018 we formed a taskforce with the aim to design, implement, and monitor diversity and gender equality initiatives. Further information on the vacancy is available through dr. Andrea Baldi (a.baldi@differ.nl) or prof. dr. Jaime Gomez Rivas (J.GomezRivas@differ.nl).

Application procedure: 

In case you are interested you can apply by submitting an application letter and a full resume. Please refer to vacancy 18.010. The letter of application may be sent electronically to: vacancies@differ.nl.

Closing date: 

Friday, August 31, 2018

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