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PhD Position in Solid State Physics • Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids • Dresden

Open Positions    1
Time Span as soon as possible for 3 years
Application Deadline 30 Jun 2019
Financing yes
Type of Position
  • PhD – Individual Supervisor
Field of Research
  • Mathematics / Natural Sciences
Subjects Solid State Physics
Description The Department Physics of Correlated Matter (Prof. Dr. L. H. Tjeng) of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids in Dresden, Germany, is currently seeking to recruit aPhD student for the project
« All in-situ/ultra-high vacuum ionic liquid gating study on correlated thin films »,

lead by Dr. Simone Altendorf.

Electrostatic gating is a common approach to alter the properties of thin films. It is utilized in field effect transistors in which controlled and reversible changes in the carrier concentration of the channel material are induced by applied electric fields. The magnitude of the electric fields supported by conventional gate dielectrics, however, is limited by their dielectric properties; and the maximum possible field strength is often not sufficient to tune the charge carrier concentrations over a wide range to, for instance, induce phase transitions. This motivated gating experiments involving ionic liquids (IL). By replacing the insulating solid-state gates with an IL, much higher electric fields can be implemented due to the formation of an electric double layer at the IL–channel interface that supports higher fields. Consequently, field effect transistor devices that are based on ILs can, in principle, electrostatically induce much higher charge carrier densities in the transistor channel. These high carrier densities, in turn, can lead to the formation of novel phases with interesting properties.

It has been long assumed that a purely electrostatic charge accumulation is responsible for the IL gate-induced changes. However, many recent studies show that the observed gating effects in various oxide materials are not in agreement with a purely electrostatic picture, but rather related to electrochemical processes. The exact mechanisms are still being discussed and many contradictory results are being published. One important reason underlying these controversies might be a lack of purity in the experiments. Most ILs are known to be hygroscopic – they easily absorb water from the atmosphere which can considerably change their properties and significantly shrink the electrochemical window of the ILs. Thus, an extremely careful handling of the ILs is required. In most studies, however, at least the critical IL device preparation is done ex-situ.

The Department Physics of Correlated Matter has vast expertise in the growth (molecular beam epitaxy (MBE)) and characterization of high quality thin films all under ultra-high vacuum (UHV) conditions. The goal of this PhD project is to facilitate and perform a true all in-situ/UHV IL gating study on oxide thin films to achieve a better understanding of the mechanisms governing the gate-induced effects.

The PhD project will cover
– Upgrade of the existing UHV thin film system: Design/construction of an all under UHV setup for ionic liquid gating experiments including an in-situ sample and IL device preparation
– In-situ ionic liquid gating experiments
– MBE growth of thin films of strongly correlated materials
– In-situ characterization of thin films by electron diffraction (LEED, RHEED), photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), electrical transport measurements, atomic force microscopy (AFM)
– Characterization of thin films by hard x-ray photoemission at the synchrotron (e.g. at SPring-8, Japan)

Terms of employment
– The position is on fixed-term contracts for three years.
– The salary will be according to the conditions of the German federal labor agreement.
– The MPI-CPFS is an equal opportunity employer and encourages diversity.

Please send your complete application documents, including CV, motivation statement, recent transcripts, and two recommendation letters as a single pdf file to:
Dr. Simone Altendorf
Department Physics of Correlated Matter
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids
Nöthnitzer Str. 40, 01187 Dresden, Germany

Requirements Your profile, skills and experience
– Master’s degree in physics, with good knowledge of quantum mechanics
– A solid background in thin film deposition methods and previous experience using UHV surface analysis equipment would be a significant benefit.
– Interest in planning, designing, and testing new experimental UHV setups
– Criteria for admission include academic skills, motivation, commitment, creativity, communication skills, and very good knowledge of the English language.
Working Language
  • English
Language of Dissertation
  • English
Required Documents
  • CV
  • Reports, certificates
  • Transcripts
  • Letter of Motivation
  • List of Publication
More Information


Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids • Physics of Correlated Matter
Dr. Simone Altendorf
Nöthnitzer Str. 40
01187 Dresden



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