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    • Basel
  • Full time
  • Recruitment


  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Physics


  • Phd

Apply by: 2023-04-20

PhD Position: Ultrafast chiral spectroscopy for research in photochemistry

Published 2023-03-20

The Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Chiral Molecular Dynamics Laboratory led by Prof. Malte Oppermann studies the molecular transformations that drive biological and chemical processes on the nanoscale. To achieve this, our interdisciplinary research team develops innovative time-resolved spectroscopic tools that use polarization-controlled laser pulses to capture both electronic and structural changes in molecular systems on their natural time scales. We are looking for a creative and highly motivated doctoral student to join our team.

Laboratory website: https://oppermann.chemie.unibas.ch/en/

Project background
To capture molecular dynamics in real-time we need experimental techniques that offer both high structural and fast time resolution. However, achieving this in the native solution environment of most (bio-)chemical processes is especially challenging on time scales faster than the millisecond regime (10-3 seconds). Our team has recently developed a new approach to achieve this: we use broadband circularly polarized laser pulses to capture changes in the structural symmetry of molecules, called chirality, to resolve their structural dynamics with femtosecond time resolution [1]. This has opened the path to resolve the structural dynamics of (bio-)molecular systems [2] and to study the chirality of short lived electronic excited states for controlling photochemical processes [3]. To expand the scope of this research, we are now implementing an advanced ultrafast chiral spectroscopy platform at University of Basel, making use of the latest developments in ultrafast laser and photonic technology.

Your position

This Ph.D. project focuses on the design and implementation of a new ultrafast chiral spectroscopy instrument that will expand our measurement capabilities into the far ultraviolet spectral regime. This will provide unprecedented access to the electronic and structural dynamics encoded in important ultraviolet chromophores, such as nucleobases in DNA, amino acids and peptide bonds in proteins and small organic ligands in molecular systems. The first part of this project will focus on the design, implementation, and benchmarking of ultrafast optical set-ups. In the second part, the new set-up will be applied to investigate the ultrafast structural dynamics of chiral photo-switchable molecular systems in direct collaboration with our international partners. This highly interdisciplinary project thus combines hands-on optical instrument development with innovative research in photochemistry.

The position is available starting from 1 March 2023. The starting date can be adapted upon mutual agreement.

Your profile

We are looking for a highly motivated and creative candidate with a hands-on mentality and a keen interest in developing laser spectroscopy instrumentation. This position is especially suitable for a candidate with a background in ultrafast spectroscopy, but we highly encourage all interested candidates from the physical and (bio-)chemical sciences to apply. Our research is highly interdisciplinary and collaborative, so we strive for an inclusive, supportive, and enthusiastic work environment that values a team with diverse interests and personal backgrounds. For this position, skills and experience in the following areas would be especially valuable assets:

  • Ultrafast spectroscopy of molecular systems
  • Handling and development of optical and photonic technology
  • Hardware control via LabView, Matlab, Python or similar
  • Data analysis with common programming languages such as Matlab or Python
  • Research experience in photochemistry or -physics, molecular dynamics, or material science

We offer you

  • Close supervision on your Ph.D. research in a young research group
  • An interdisciplinary and collaborative work environment with a diverse range of tasks
  • Training in optical and laser technology, photochemistry and -physics, data analysis, research skills and career development
  • Excellent salary, benefits and working conditions following Swiss university standards
  • Basel offers a truly international environment, bordering with France and Germany, a wide range of cultural activities and an exceptional quality of life

Application / Contact

Please send your application to our group's email address group-oppermann@unibas.ch as a single pdf file containing the following items:

  • A motivation letter that describes your suitability for the position (maximum one A4 page)
  • Your curriculum vitae (including a list of publications if applicable)
  • Scanned transcripts of your B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees including grades
  • The names and contact details of at least two referees that can recommend you

The position will be open until a suitable candidate is found, so we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.