PhD Candidate in Experimental Soft Matter Physics

Trondheim, Norway
26 Mar 2021
End of advertisement period
03 May 2021
Academic Discipline
Physical Sciences, Physics & Astronomy
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

We have a vacancy for a PhD candidate working in the area of experimental soft matter physics in the Soft and Complex Matter Lab located at the Department of Physics, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology – NTNU in Trondheim Norway.

The position is funded by the Research Council of Norway in a project entitled “Clay nanolayers for encapsulation of drops or nanoparticles”. The activities in the project are mainly experimental, supported by theory and simulations, and involve fundamental studies of encapsulation by 2-dimensional clay nanolayers.

Basic concepts and open scientific questions in this area of research are summarized in a recent publication, see “Clay nanolayer encapsulation, evolving from origins of life to future technologies”, Jon Otto Fossum, European Physical Journal Special Topics 229, 2863–2879 (2020) (

The workplace of the PhD candidate will be in the Soft and Complex Matter Lab ( in certain cases supported by the NTNU Nanolab (

Experimental methods that will be utilized in the project are mainly microscopy (optical, atomic force - AFM, electron (SEM, TEM)), microfluidic methods as well as nanotechnological methods such as focused ion beam (FIB). Custom made experiments, such as special purpose sample cells, acoustic levitation etc. will be designed and built with the help of the laboratory’s technical staff, the NTNU mechanical workshop or by own 3D printing.

Some sample preparation that involves physical chemistry for clay nano-layer delamination and nanolayer functionalization will be supervised by and partly performed by the project’s dedicated postdoc and the rest of the experienced laboratory staff. The sample preparation part will be performed in close collaboration with the University of Bayreuth in Germany.

Some experiments using advanced fluorescent confocal microscopy will be performed at the University of Oslo, and some experiments involving advanced microfluidic manipulation and observation of nanolayers may be performed during research missions to École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles (ESPCI) in Paris France.

The project team will perform X-ray scattering characterization (wide- or small-angle, i.e. WAXS or SAXS) either in the Soft and Complex Matter Lab at NTNU or at international synchrotron X-ray facilities. Neutron scattering experiments (SANS or spectroscopy) may be performed by the team at international neutron facilities, such as ISIS UK.

Starting date for employment in the position is  expected to be August 15 2021.

You will report to Head of Department of Physics Professor Erik Wahlstrøm.

Professor Jon Otto Fossum will be the main supervisor of the PhD candidate, and Professor Paul Dommersnes will be co-supervisor.

Required selection criteria

The PhD candidate position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is that you at the start of your appointment (August 15th 2021) have completed a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in physics, nanotechnology, materials science, or another relevant field with sufficient physics contents or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic foundation. If you are unable to meet these criteria you may be considered only if you can document that you are particularly suitable for education leading to a PhD degree.

Applicants must agree to participate in organized doctoral study programs within the period of the appointment and have to be qualified for the PhD-study.Applicants must agree to participate in organized doctoral study programs within the period of the appointment and have to be qualified for the PhD-study.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant.

  • The position requires a strong interest in developing experimental skills.

Preferred selection criteria

  • Experience with, or courses in soft or condensed matter experimental physics, such as in using some of the methods listed above, may be considered an advantage.
  • It may be considered an advantage if the applicant has data-analysis skills in e.g. Matlab.
  • Good written and oral English.

Personal characteristics

  • Creative, with a strong ability to work goal-oriented.
  • Good skills to deliver oral and written presentations of research results.
  • He/she should also enjoy interdisciplinary research and take keen interest in learning and working in teams, which is of particular importance in this collaborative project.

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 482 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years. There is a possibility for a 1 year extension to 4 years employment if the PhD candidate is qualified for and selected for teaching duty work at the Department of Physics during the first 3 years of employment.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Physics , within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution on a daily basis, with the exception of the time periods for planned research missions to the collaborating laboratories described above.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above. 

The application must include:

  • An application letter that shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the specific criteria and general research approach which are set out above, as well as your motivation.
  • CV, certificates and diplomas.
  • Academic works - published or unpublished - that you would like to be considered in the assessment.
  • Name and address of three referees

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. 

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

In accordance with The Public Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Professor Jon Otto Fossum, email If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact Head of Department of Physics Professor Erik Wahlstrøm, e-mail:

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI).

If you are invited for interview you must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number 38/21 when applying.

Application deadline: 03.05.21

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

The Faculty of Natural Sciences

The Faculty of Natural Sciences is a key player in national and international research and education programmes in natural sciences and technology. Our research focuses on global challenges in the areas of energy, climate, the environment, food, water, health and welfare. The Faculty consists of eight departments as well as the Faculty Administration.

Deadline 3rd May 2021
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Department of physics

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