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The University of Luxembourg (UL) and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) invite applications for several PhD positions within the newly established Doctoral Training Unit on “Materials for Sensing and Energy Harvesting (MASSENA)” in the research fields of Physics and Materials Science. The doctoral programme MASSENA is funded in the frame of the PRIDE scheme of the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR).

The objectives of the research programme are to improve the understanding and the performance of materials used in sensing and energy harvesting. The medium to long term research objective is to enable new applications and improved performance.

The Doctoral Training Unit is organised in four thematic clusters: three application-oriented clusters - (A) strain sensors and energy harvesters, (B) electronic sensors and energy harvesters, and (C) bio-sensing - are supported by a transversal cluster on (D) electronic structure theory.

Your profile:Picture

  • Master's degree in Physics, Chemistry, or Materials Science
  • Strong background in at least one of the fields of the clusters
  • Good English language skills
  • Willingness to work in an inter-cultural and international environment
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Curiousity and self-motivation

We offer:

  • A dynamic and well-equipped research environment
  • Intensive training in scientific and transferable skills, participation in schools, conferences and workshops
  • Three-year (fixed term) employee contract at UL or LIST, extendable to four years
  • Enrollment as a PhD student in the Doctoral School of Science and Engineering at UL
  • Personal work space at UL or LIST (depending on project)

Gender policy:

UL and LIST strive to increase the share of female PhD students. Therefore, we explicitly encourage women to apply.

Application submission:

Before proceeding with the submission of your application, please prepare the following documents in English.
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Motivation letter detailing how you meet the selection criteria. The motivation letter must clearly highlight your choice of research project from the list below. You can list up to three projects with priorities. Explain your choice.
  • Publication list (if applicable)
  • Coordinates of two persons willing to send a letter of recommendation
  • Copies of diplomas, transcripts with grades, with English translation
All documents should be uploaded in pdf format. Please note that incomplete applications or applications without project priorities will not be considered.

The positions will remain open until filled. For further questions, please contact

Selection process:

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview or interviewed by phone.

Overview of the programme:Picture

The Doctoral Training Unit is organised in four thematic clusters: three application oriented clusters - (A) strain sensors and energy harvesters, (B) electronic sensors and energy harvesters, and (C) bio-sensing - are supported by a transversal cluster on (D) electronic structure theory.

A.    Strain sensors and energy harvesters:

In this cluster, we focus on sensors and energy harvesters related to mechanical strain and/or temperature variation. The main objectives of this cluster are 1) to identify original materials for strain sensors and energy harvesters, 2) to develop appropriate process technologies and 3) to reach the level of a proof of concept for some of them. To address these objectives, three types of materials will be investigated: i) Lead-free piezoelectric materials, ii) Liquid crystals, and iii) Caloric materials (including Shape Memory Alloys, pyroelectric and electrocaloric materials)

B.    Electronic sensors and energy harvesters:

This cluster will use the response of the electronic system of thin films, crystals and devices to external stimuli for sensing or energy harvesting. The objectives are to understand the parameters that are responsible for the sensitivity or the efficiency of the response, and to improve the coupling of the materials to the outer fields so that they are useful for tomorrow’s applications.

C.    Biosensing:

The objective of this cluster is to investigate concepts that underlie the translation of material properties into high performance in biosensing. The material properties of interest include geometric attributes (in micro/nanoscale), surface properties, and the material’s influence or response in the presence of the biological environment.

D.    Electronic structure theory:

In this cluster, we will train the doctoral candidates to use and develop cutting-edge electronic-structure methods ranging from ab-initio and semi-empirical methods on the atomistic scale to model-Hamiltonian methods on the mesoscopic scale. We aim to understand and predict properties like electrical conductance, light absorption/emission and the electro-mechanical behaviour of a large class of materials, in particular those that are used and developed in the experimental clusters.

Project descriptions:

At this time, PhD students are hired for the following research project:

A.    Strain sensors and energy harvesters:

A5. Torsten Granzow (LIST): The development of new, lead-free piezoelectrics has reached a stage where questions of reliability and fatigue are becoming relevant. The objective of this project is the identification of fatigue mechanisms in different types of lead-free piezoelectric ceramics under loading scenarios mimicking those encountered in typical applications. Samples are prepared via a conventional solid-oxide route, and characterized using various electrical, mechanical, optical and structural measurement techniques. Based on the results, a model describing the fatigue mechanism is developed. In a second step, the composition or microstructure of the piezoelectrics are modified to minimize the observed degradation effects.

Please use this link to submit your application.  

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