Subsurface AFM - Scanning Ultrasound Holography

4 years PhD position
Deadline for Application: 20th of May 2009

One of the holy grails is to obtain nondestructive, real-space subsurface information on the nanometer length scale. This information is critical for numerous applications in material science and biological systems, as would support measuring buried and embedded structures (see [1]). Examples are damages in stacked structures in microelectronics and nuclei of cells.

Recently, Shekhawat and Dravid demonstrated with their pioneering experiments that it is indeed possible to obtain subsurface information with a home-build atomic force microscope [1]. It is our intention to quickly realize the same technique thereby allowing us also to explore the enormous research capabilities. We have a track record in the construction and application of high-speed scanning probe microscopes [2], for the live observation of dynamic phenomena at surfaces and membranes.

The project starts with the construction of a new mechanical hardware (AFM) that enables obtaining subsurface information. For this purpose it is necessary to develop a new sample holder as well as a new tip holder, through both of which ultrasonic sound waves can be launched towards the sample surface. High frequency knowledge is, therefore, an advantage for the position. The possible resolution of this unique instrument will be demonstrated on both solid material science samples and biological samples.

For this position, we are searching for an ambitious candidate with a recent M.Sc. degree in physics.
The ideal applicant has
- experience with Scanning Probe Microscopes, preferable AFM,
- experience with high frequency generation and detection (MHz, GHz)
- background knowledge in fundamental surface science,
- and a strong affinity with the construction & experience with the operation of complex

Keywords are:
AFM, SPM, nanotechnology, solid state physics, ultrasound, high frequency generation, detection and modulation, sound propagation, holography, electronics, surface science,…

We invite applications, preferable from EU nationals, for a four year PhD position. The position is funded by the Smartmix (Nimic) program and comes with a high salary and comprehensive additional support.
The electronically submitted application (*.pdf) should include a motivation letter, a full CV, and copies / transcript of certifications including all possible marks from your study.

[1] G.S. Shekhawat and V.P. Dravid; Science 310, 89 (2005) 5745
[2] M.J. Rost et al., Rev. Sci. Instrum. 76 (2005) 53710

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