PhD position in AMO Physics - Laser cooling the Helium dimer

Research / Academic

We are looking for a motivated and interested PhD-student, with a degree in physics or chemistry and with experience in laser physics, spectroscopy, and/or optical technology, who wishes to work with us in the international and stimulating environment of the joint Quantum Metrology group at LaserLaB Amsterdam.

This project aims to create the first ultracold gas of a directly laser-cooled homonuclear molecule, the helium dimer He_2. Starting from a supersonic beam, novel laser slowing and cooling techniques will be employed to create a trapped dense gas of ultracold molecules. Choosing the He_2 molecule constitutes a paradigm change in the field of ultracold molecules, as it will constitute the lightest and simplest molecule ever laser-cooled. This provides a controllable, simple 4-electron system at record low temperature, allowing quantum sensing and precision measurements to test QED and to study the quantum nature of collisions with unprecedented accuracy - while being accessible to highly accurate ab initio computational methods.

During the PhD, you will engage with various aspects of experimental physics, including ultrahigh vacuum, CAD design, optics and lasers, electronics, and scientific programming. There is also the possibility to delve into the theory of molecular Rydberg states and collisions using scattering theory.


  • Bachelor/Master in physics or chemistry
  • Affinity for atomic, molecular, or optical physics.
  • Most important is that you are bright, enthusiastic, work well in a team, are eager to learn, and of course that you are enthusiastic about this intriguing project!

As a university, we strive for equal opportunities for all, recognizing that diversity takes many forms. We believe that diversity in all its complexity is invaluable for the quality of our teaching, research, and service. We are always looking for talent with diverse backgrounds and experiences. This also means that we are committed to creating an inclusive community so that we can use diversity as an asset.

We realize that each individual brings a unique set of skills, expertise, and mindset. Therefore we are happy to invite anyone who recognises themselves in the profile to apply, even if you do not meet all the requirements.

Salary Benefits:

A challenging position in a socially engaged organisation. At VU Amsterdam, you contribute to education, research and service for a better world. And that is valuable. So in return for your efforts, we offer you:

  • a salary of minimum € 2.770,00 (PhD) and maximum € 3.539,00 (PhD) gross per month, on a full-time basis. This is based on UFO profile PhD candidate. The exact salary depends on your education and experience.
  • a full-time position (1.0 FTE). Your employment contract will initially last 1 year. If there is sufficient perspective, this will be extended to a total of 4 years.

We also offer you attractive fringe benefits and regulations. Some examples:

  • A full-time 38-hour working week comes with a holiday leave entitlement of 232 hours per year. If you choose to work 40 hours, you have 96 extra holiday leave hours on an annual basis. For part-timers, this is calculated pro rata.
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge

De Boelelaan 1085