PhD Position in Crystalline Oxide Coatings for Gravitation Wave Mirrors

Catholic University of Leuven

The Functional Nanosystems (FuN) group of the Semiconductor Physics laboratory (HF) focuses its research on advanced nanomaterials and their assembly into functional devices and systems. Advanced nanomaterials include nanoparticles, 2D nanostructures, and thin film heterostructures. We aim at exploring their functional response, which are very important for many applications in fields like electronics, materials science, catalysis, energy production and medicine. Our approach covers experimental and theoretical efforts as well as nanoscale up to macroscale synthesis and characterisation. The FuN group is actively involved in mirror coating research for the future Einstein Telescope through the participation in Virgo Coating R&D as well as the ETPathfinder and E-Test Interreg projects with partners in Belgium - Germany - The Netherlands. This research take place in the framework of the iBOF network of excellence “Unlocking the Dark Universe with Gravitational Wave Observations: from Quantum Optics to Quantum Gravity”, a project involving KULeuven, VUB, UGent and UAntwerpen.


The main goal of the PhD project  is to develop novel crystalline oxide thin films on silicon and on sapphire for gravitational wave (GW) mirror applications. One of the main limiting factors in (GW) research is related to the Brownian motion noise of the current amorphous mirror coatings. This noise originates from the mechanical properties of the coatings and in particular of the mechanical losses. Single crystals films should have much lower mechanical losses and better specifications that can match those necessary for future GW telescopes such as the Einstein Telescope. Can you demonstrate that ? 

A significant part of the research will be to grow high quality crystalline oxide thin films with various deposition techniques (molecular beam epitaxy, chemical vapour deposition, etc.) as well as their detailled structural and microscopic characterisation with scanning transmission electron microscopy (S)TEM using the advanced facilities in the laboratories. In addition, the mechanical and optical properties of the coatings will be measured as a function of temperature. Numerical modelling to understand the observed structures and responses will provide physical insight and will be performed where necessary. 


Master in condensed matter physics and/or material science


4 years PhD position 


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Jean-Pierre Locquet, tel.: +32 16 32 72 90, mail: or Prof. dr. Jin Won Seo, tel.: +32 16 32 12 72, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than May 16, 2021 via the
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  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: May 16, 2021
  • Tags: Ingenieurswetenschappen