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Postdoctoral Researcher Position Available in Dielectric Surface Engineering for Quantum Sensors in Zürich

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100%, Zurich, fixed-term

The Spin Physics Group led by Prof. Christian Degen and Dr. Alexander Eichler is looking for a highly motivated postdoctoral researcher with a background in surface chemistry, characterization, and engineering, and with a broad interest in applications for quantum sensing.

Do you have experience in, or are willing to learn about, quantum metrology, optomechanics, magnetism, radio-frequency electronics, laser optics, and digital signal analysis? Are you persevering, independent, and a good team player? Get in touch with us!

Project background

The last two decades have seen a dramatic improvement in the fabrication and performance of nano- and micromechanical resonators. In particular, the quality factor (Q) of nanomechanical silicon nitride (SiN) resonators has been improved over five orders of magnitude, reaching values beyond one billion at room temperature. However, this drastic improvement of Q has been solely based on device design optimization. The actual underlying dissipation that is diluted has not been investigated in detail and has not seen any improvements.

Surface states, be it spins, electrical states, or crystal lattice defects, are considered a prime source for decoherence and dissipation in a wide range of contemporary quantum devices and can limit the quality factors of nanomechanical SiN resonators as well. The main aim of this work is to gain a better understanding of the remaining damping mechanisms in SiN resonators and to improve their Q by another order of magnitude through surface chemistry: an untapped, bottom-up approach to mitigate surface dissipation. The applications of these chemically functionalized membrane resonators are quantum-limited operation of membrane-based atomic force microscopy, magnetic resonance imaging, and mass sensors at the single-molecule regime.

Job description

The primary tasks for the position will focus on merging surface chemistry and engineering with state-of-the-art quantum cavity optomechanics and ultrasensitive force microscopy to improve the quality factors and chemical versatility of nanomechanical SiN resonators. You will explore various SiN surface modifications that maximize instrument performance by manipulating mechanical energy dissipation, eliminating surface defects, and controlling electronic contributions from self-assembled molecular films.

Similar surface functionalization strategies can be used in order to mitigate surface noise sources of decoherence in other quantum device architectures, e.g., diamond materials hosting near-surface nitrogen– vacancy (NV) centers, which is another core research area in our group. Thus, secondary tasks for the position will include applying surface termination and chemical modification to diamond materials and having the opportunity in parallel to support and to participate in PhD projects geared toward quantum sensing with NV centers. These areas include the development of improved surface engineering techniques that simultaneously stabilize shallow NV centers while enabling chemical functionalization for surface nuclear and electronic spin sensing of molecular adsorbates.

The anticipated start date is early 2024. 

Your profile
  • PhD degree in Physics, Physical Chemistry, Materials Science & Engineering, or similar
  • Experience in chemical surface functionalization & characterization (i.e., XPS, UPS, scanning probe microscopy)
  • Background in the field of quantum sensing, nanomechanics, magnetic sensors, or other magnetic systems
  • Excellent interpersonal communication, teamwork & organizational skills
  • Strong oral & written communication skills in English
Your workplace
Your workplace

We offer

ETH Zurich is a family-friendly employer with excellent working conditions. You can look forward to an exciting working environment, cultural diversity and attractive offers and benefits.

We value diversity
In line with , ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.
Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  1. Short motivation letter (not more than 1 page)
  2. CV
  3. Brief statement of research background/interests
  4. Names and contact information for two references, or optionally two reference letters

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Further information about the Spin Physics and Imaging Group can be found on our . Specific questions regarding the position should be directed to Dr. John Abendroth, E-mail abendroth@phys.ethz.ch (no applications).

About ETH Zürich
ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

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