Department of Physics and Astronomy

PhD student in Physics with specialization in ultrafast X-ray spectroscopy (MSCA COFUND project PRISMAS)

PRISMAS - PhD Research and Innovation in Synchrotron Methods and Applications in Sweden – is a new doctoral network training the next generation of 40 leading synchrotron experts, co-funded by the Horizon Europe MSCA COFUND Programme.

As a PRISMAS PhD student, you will have the chance to conduct cutting-edge research in your field, taking advantage of state of the art tools that will bring to attractive future job opportunities in academia or industry. Moreover, you are part of designing the future of synchrotron technology and instrumentation and using these to tackle some of the most significant global challenges the world faces today while acquiring interdisciplinary and intersectoral knowledge. Being part of the PRISMAS programme gives you the one-of-a-kind experience in form of a secondment at the world´s first 4th generation synchrotron, MAX IV in Lund, Sweden. Complemented with a tailored training programme, including courses to build scientific and technical competence as well as strengthen transferrable skills, PRISMAS provides you with the skills, knowledge and competence needed to successfully achieve your doctoral degree.

The research conducted at the Department of Physics and Astronomy encompasses a wide range of physics topics, distributed over ten divisions. The department is located in the Ångström laboratory and employs nearly 400 people, 125 of whom are doctoral students. It offers a broad physics curriculum to undergraduate and graduate students, participation in nationally and internationally leading projects for researchers, and opportunities for partnership with industry and various outreach activities.

The project is hosted by the research program Chemical and Bio-Molecular Physics at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Uppsala University. In this program we focus on understanding the fundamental properties and ultrafast processes of matter at the atomic length and time scales of Ångströms and femtoseconds. We have a leading position in the use of X-rays for probing atoms, molecules and chemical and biomolecular systems. We develop and apply novel X-ray methods and instrumentation and aim at revealing how the properties of a system result from its electronic structure and dynamics with applications in environmental, biophysical and chemical systems. We are in a lively and inspiring research and teaching environment with a strong, and highly active PhD representation. We perform experiments at synchrotron radiation facilities and X-ray free-electron lasers combined with femtosecond laser spectroscopy at Uppsala University.

The project is part of the MSCA COFUND project PRISMAS, which offers you outstanding opportunities as well as a stimulating and inspiring surrounding for performing cutting-edge research. Supporting your mobility, it creates perfect conditions for strengthening your international network.

Read more about our benefits and what it is like to work at Uppsala University

Project description
Can we understand catalysis at the molecular level, at the level of atoms and electrons? Can we use this to find new ways to convert the energy of the sun into storable forms of energy? All of this requires a fundamental understanding of the photo-induced physical and chemical processes in molecules and materials and this is where we need you. You will use X-ray spectroscopy to probe the geometric and electronic structures of molecular systems, specifically around a selected element in the systems and as the systems evolve in time after having absorbed a visible photon and as they are transformed in chemical reactions. For this, you will join us in developing and using new capabilities at the MAX IV synchrotron source for time-resolved X-ray spectroscopy of molecular systems and materials. We want to pump (excite) the system with a visible laser pulse and probe it with a time-delayed sequence of X-ray pulses to access processes in the range from several hundred picoseconds to milliseconds, time scales typical of catalytic reactions.

You will develop and test novel data-acquisition and detection schemes employing modern detectors and high-speed counting electronics. Because MAX IV is such an intense X-ray source, because its X-ray beams can be so well focused and because it is such a stable source, with your developments, we have a chance to reduce data acquisition times by two orders of magnitude compared to the current state-of-the-art. Supported by our team, it will be your duty to explore and characterize different detectors and data acquisition systems to push the limits of current optical pump and X-ray probe measurements (specifically, based on time correlated single photon counting schemes and high-speed FPGA based data reduction). Together we will show how this is key for probing photo-induced processes in chemical, bio-inorganic and materials science systems at operando conditions. You will have the opportunity to work in particular on C-H activation or CO2 reduction with transition-metal photocatalysts and complexes. You will publish your proof-of-concept investigations in peer-revied international scientific journals to showcase the capabilities of your approach to the international X-ray and catalysis communities.

As part of PRISMAS, the project includes a secondment of 3-12 months at MAX IV laboratory in Lund, Sweden, where you will join our collaboration of teams at the Balder beamline at MAX IV and Uppsala University. Additional secondments and/or short stays will be arranged in agreement with the supervisor of the research project to perform complementary time-resolved experiments in our labs, in the labs of our collaborators in Europe and at other large-scale X-ray facilities. Moreover, you will attend international conferences, participate in periodical project meetings and training schools as well as in specialised courses at different universities to complement your knowledge.  A certain amount of travelling is foreseen in relation to these activities.

To comply with the mobility rule of the MSCA COFUND programme, you are eligible if you have not resided in Sweden for more than 12 months during the period 2020-05-01 to 2023-05-02 for work or studies as main occupation. By the employment date (before 01/09/2023) you must have completed courses of at least 240 credits, of which at least 60 credits are from second-cycle courses, have been awarded a Master´s degree or have acquired largely equivalent knowledge in some other way, in Sweden or abroad.

In addition to the criteria abovementioned, you must have fulfilled a second cycle education in a relevant field, such as Physics, Chemistry or Materials science.

You are eligible for the PRISMAS programme, if you are a doctoral candidate, i.e., are not already in possession of a doctoral degree.

It is an absolute prerequisite that you are fluent in both written and spoken English.

Additional qualifications
You should be highly motivated to pursue experimental research in an active team with interest to explore new ways and immerse yourself into fundamental aspects of catalysis, physics, or chemistry as well as into advanced signal detection and data acquisition schemes.

Additional qualifications of yours that will give you an advantage in the application process include

  • Experience with time correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) including detectors and counting electronics
  • Experience with data reduction and programming (pref. Python)
  • Openness to acquire new skills, specifically in relation to data handling, electronics, programming and FPGA programming
  • Experience with spectroscopy experiments
  • Experience with X-ray spectroscopy
  • Experience with picosecond or femtosecond pulsed laser sources

Consideration will also be given to good collaborative skills, drive and independence, and how your experience and skills complement and strengthen ongoing research at the department.

The application should consist of

  • CV in Europass format
  • A two-page cover letter, justifying your interest in the position and how it matches your qualifications as well as the prioritization in case of applying to several PRISMAS positions.
  • at least one reference letter
  • an evidence of English 3 proficiency (minimum B2 level)
  • Copy of academic records (including marks for all coursework) with a transcript of diploma in English,
  • and any other document to which you would like to draw attention (details of referees, letters of recommendation, etc.)

These documents should be uploaded (pdf) in the job application portal. Exam certificates and other documents on paper should be scanned or photographed before being uploaded.

The application will be evaluated based on scientific excellence, the adequacy of your career plan and your thesis project as well as your research experience.

Details on the novel, unique and common selection process for all the PRISMAS positions can be found here: How to apply – MAX IV (

Uppsala University welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences. 

About the employment
Rules governing PhD students are set out in the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5, §§ 1-7 and in Uppsala University's rules and guidelines.

The employment is a temporary position for four years at 100 % of full time according to the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5 § 7. The position is foreseen to start on 01/09/2023. Placement: Uppsala

For further information about the position or research project, please contact: Philippe Wernet ( or Justus Just (

If you have questions on the selection process, please contact:

Please submit your application by May 2 2023, UFV-PA 2023/793.

Are you considering moving to Sweden to work at Uppsala University? Find out more about what it´s like to work and live in Sweden.

Type of employment Temporary position
Contract type Full time
First day of employment 2023-09-01
Salary Fixed salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100 %
City Uppsala
County Uppsala län
Country Sweden
Reference number UFV-PA 2023/793
Union representative
  • ST/TCO,
  • Seko Universitetsklubben,
  • Saco-rådet,
Published 03.Mar.2023
Last application date 02.May.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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