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Job ID: 211649

Doctoral Researcher in Topological Photonics
Aalto University

Date Posted May 30, 2023
Title Doctoral Researcher in Topological Photonics
University Aalto University
, Finland
Department T304 Dept. Applied Physics
Application Deadline Open until filled
Position Start Date Available immediately
  • Graduate Student
  • Physics - General
The Department of Applied Physics is now looking for a

Doctoral Researcher in Topological Photonics

We are seeking for a PhD student to work on Topological photonics starting September 1st, 2023. The position offers an exciting opportunity to conduct cutting-edge theoretical research and contribute to future development of innovative technologies in photonics.

Topology concerns the geometrical properties that are immune to deformations and has been applied to describe the existence of novel phase transitions not linked to a spontaneous symmetry breaking. Topological phenomena, exemplified by the integer quantum Hall effect, are characterized by a correspondence between the existence of chiral edge states and the properties of bulk bands, such as the Berry curvature or topological invariants. The exploration of topological phenomena has extended to various physical systems, with optics and metamaterials being prominent among them. These investigations yield practical applications ranging from the unidirectional propagation of light to the development of integrated all-optical devices resistant to external perturbations. However, topological light at the nanoscale is not yet fully understood and controlled because of subtle reciprocity, nonlocality, and radiation to the far-field continuum. Addressing this issue, the project aims to provide a theoretical framework for understanding out-of-equilibrium topological phases in nanophotonic systems.

Your role and goals

You will learn about the theory of topological phases in photonics with a focus on designing and manipulating light at the nanoscale level using novel concepts. Through a combination of theoretical analysis and numerical simulations, you will explore the interplay between time-varying media and the topological quantum aspects of light-matter interactions at the nanoscale. You will study how topological defects, such as light polarization vortices, interact with Berry curvature of the bands. Additionally, you will explore the potential of “synthetic dimensions” as an alternative means of implementing topology in a photonic system, investigating whether they can provide novel phenomena such as exceptional nodal points or richer topological effects. Your research will develop a theory for radiation topology and phase transitions in nanophotonics, understanding the interplay of topology with non-Hermitian effects, such as dissipation and outcoupling. Your results may open opportunities for designing novel topological photonic devices.

Useful reading material:

Your experience and ambitions

We are looking for a highly motivated and curious student that would have:
  • A Master’s degree in Theoretical Physics or a field relevant to the position
  • Very good knowledge of photonics or condensed matter theory (previous experience on topological phases of matter is a plus)
  • Familiarity with basic numerical methods and good programming practices
  • Desire to explore new frontiers, ask meaningful questions and seek answers to unsolved problems
  • Fluency in English (Finnish language is not required)

What we offer
  • A stimulating and fruitful atmosphere in which to study exciting new physics of high quality at the forefront of topological photonics, one of the most challenging areas of photonics.
  • An internationally active research environment with a network of collaborations with recognized scientists working on plasmonics and exciton-polariton lattices in Finland and France.
  • An extensive training-through-research, with opportunities to grow and learn by actively participating in development events based on your interests and needs.
  • Scientific and career guidance, with technical and research skills development.
  • Opportunities for attending international conferences and workshops, which will build your potential for future career development and academic or industrial collaborations.
  • Freedom in the role, we value work-life balance and well-being in all aspects of life.

Following the standard practice in the Department of Applied Physics, the contract will be made initially for two years, then extended to another two years after a successful mid-term progress review. The total duration of Ph.D. studies is four years. The annual workload of research and teaching staff at Aalto University is currently 1612 hours. Aalto University follows the salary system of Finnish universities. The starting salary of a PhD student is approximately 2600 €/month (gross), and it increases as you progress in your research and studies. The contract includes Aalto University occupational healthcare.

We work in a hybrid way, and the primary workplace is Otaniemi, Espoo. The Otaniemi campus is a thriving and connected community of 100 nationalities, 13,000 students and 4,500 employees. Life at the transformed campus is vibrant and filled with amazing architecture, calming nature, and a variety of cafes, restaurants, services, and good connections along the recently opened metro line.

Ready to apply?

To apply for the position, please submit your application including the attachments mentioned below as one single PDF document in English through our online recruitment system by using the link on Aalto University’s web page ("Apply Now”).

Cover letter outlining your main motivation for pursuing a PhD, your research interests, and relevant skills Curriculum Vitae Master thesis Academic transcripts and degree certificates Contact details of at least one academic referee (or letter of recommendation, if already available)

The deadline for applications is August 1st, 2023. We will go through applications and contact suitable candidates for interview already during the application period. The interview process will include a 15-minute presentation of your Master’s thesis, to be arranged via Zoom.

Aalto University reserves the right for justified reasons to leave the position open, to extend the application period, reopen the application process, and to consider candidates who have not submitted applications during the application period.

Please note: Aalto University’s employees should apply for the position via our internal system Workday -> find jobs (not external webpage on open positions) by using their existing Workday user account.

For additional information, please contact Dr. Grazia Salerno (

About Finland

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