PhD candidate in Experimental Astro-molecular Spectroscopy

Faculty of Science – Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences

Publication date
10 July 2017
Level of education
Salary indication
€2,222 to €2,840 gross per month
Closing date
4 September 2017
38 hours per week
Vacancy number

The Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) is one of eight institutes of the University of Amsterdam Faculty of Science. HIMS performs internationally recognized chemistry and molecular research, curiosity driven as well as application driven. This is done in close cooperation with the chemical, flavour & food, medical and high-tech industries. Research is organised into four themes: Sustainable Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Computational Chemistry and Molecular Photonics.

The Molecular Photonics group is active in various areas of photophysical and photochemical research. One of the special areas is astrochemistry, aimed to enhance the interplay between chemistry and astronomy research by bringing state-of-the-art chemistry research to astronomical applications..

Job description

Many molecules, even large and complex organic molecules can be found in space. Their formation and evolution is driven by starlight and their spectroscopic signatures reveal their presence. Investigating the spectroscopy and photochemistry of neutral and ionic hydrocarbon species can teach us about the carbon inventory and chemistry in space. In this project, the spectroscopy and photolysis of a particular family of hydrocarbons, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) species, will be investigated. The aim is to determine the branching and the kinetics involved in the fragmentation and cooling of PAHs upon UV excitation for various PAH species and to determine the corresponding signatures in order to shed light on interstellar carbon chemistry. This project is highly experimentally oriented, involving state-of-the-art and spectroscopic and molecular-beam techniques and setups, which have to be maintained and further constructed. Furthermore, new experimental approaches will have to be implemented.

The PhD candidate will be appointed at the University of Amsterdam within the framework of the Dutch Astrochemistry Network, recently funded by the Dutch Science Organization NWO. He/she will perform the experimental studies within a small research team and be part of collaborations with theory, astronomy, and other experimental groups, such as the Leiden Observatory, NASA Ames Research Center, and the FELIX Laboratory in Nijmegen. This will provide him/her with a well-rounded research in astrochemistry and position him/her well for a further career in this field.


For this position the required background is a MSc. degree in physics or a related field such as astronomy or chemistry. We are looking for PhD a candidate who is very technically oriented. Knowledge of molecular physics is an asset, but not a requirement. In addition, we are looking for candidates who can work both independently and as a team member. Good communication skills in the English language are essential. Due to administrative aspects the project should start as soon as possible. Therefore we will preferably consider candidates that are currently in Europe.

Further information

For further information, please contact:


The full-time appointment will be on a temporary base for a maximum period of four years (18 months plus a further 30 months after a positive evaluation) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. Based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2.222 in the first year to €2.840 in the final year, according to the Dutch salary scales for PhD candidates. This is excl. 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end of year bonus. The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities is applicable.

Job application

Applications for the position at the University of Amsterdam may only be submitted by sending your application to To process your application immediately, please quote vacancy number 17-369 and the position you are applying for in the subject-line.

Applications must include a curriculum vitae, a list of publications, a motivation letter (why did you choose to apply for this position), and the name(s) and contact details of one or two academic referees. All these should be grouped in one PDF attachment.

The selection process commences immediately, but will close when suitable candidates have been found. Any other correspondence in response to this advertisement will not be dealt with. 

No agencies please

Published by  University of Amsterdam