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Looking for a challenging PhD?

August 31, 2016 at 13:31

ESR position in Photonic crystal fibres optimized for distributed pressure sensing  within the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network “FINESSE”

We are inviting applications from excellent and motivated candidates with a Master degree in Physics/Electrical Engineering and Electronics, preferably with majors in Photonics.


The PhD aims to investigate whether custom pressure sensitive Photonic Crystal Fibres (PCFs) can bring the same breakthrough to the sensitivity and selectivity of distributed pressure measurements, as they have brought to fibre Bragg grating-based point sensors.

The specific objectives of the research include:

(1) to examine to what extent the existing pressure PCFs are compliant with distributed interrogation systems;

(2) to understand how and under what constraints those interrogation strategies can benefit from an optimized fibre design;

(3) to design, simulate and fabricate such a custom PCF and finally

(4) to demonstrate the distributed pressure-sensing capabilities of his/her innovative and dedicated PCF.

To achieve this goal the PhD researcher will play a key role as liaison between fibre technologists and distributed sensor specialists. Training at VUB will focus on methodologies of optical fibre design and structure optimization. Secondments are planned to EPFL in Switzerland (to learn and master the measurement methods) and to IPHT in Germany (to learn and participate in the fibre fabrication). A last secondment to Omnisens (Switzerland) will demonstrate the applicability of the fabricated fibre for pressure sensing in oil & gas exploration scenarios.


  • Master Degree in Physics/Electrical Engineering preferably with majors in Photonics,
  • excellent knowledge of both experimental and theoretical modelling work,
  • eager to learn about the broader field of optical fibre sensors.

The candidate will be:

  • objective driven and well organized,
  • a communicative team player,
  • keen to gain knowledge and to develop transferable skills by attending seminars and by visiting partner labs.

Candidates will be required to meet the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Early Stage Researcher eligibility criteria: (http://ec.europa.eu/research/mariecurieactions/). In particular, at the time of appointment candidates must have had less than four years full-time equivalent research experience and must not have already obtained a PhD. Additionally, they must not have resided in Belgium for more than 12 months in the three years immediately before the appointment.


You will have the opportunity to join a stimulating working environment in a dynamic team.

Candidates with a background in photonics will work at B-PHOT, under supervision of Prof. Francis Berghmans and Prof. Thomas Geernaert at Vrije Universiteit Brussel – VUB.

B-PHOT is internationally recognized for its strategic and applied research in the field of photonics and is involved in photonics education and in industry-related photonics projects in Belgium and Europe. B-PHOT teams up with research institutions and companies to offer over 20 years of expertise in photonics-enabled innovation projects in a variety of industrial sectors.

Benefits and salary 

The successful candidate will be part of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN), FINESSE, funded by the European Union under Grant Agreement 722509.

The MSCA programme offers highly competitive and attractive salary and working conditions. The successful candidates will receive a salary in accordance with the MSCA regulations for early stage researchers. In addition to their individual scientific projects, all fellows will benefit from further continuing education, which includes internships and secondments, a variety of training modules as well as transferable skills courses and active participation in workshops and conferences.


You are invited to send your application to Prof. Francis Berghmans, fberghma@vub.ac.be. Your application file should contain:

•  a transcript of records of your marks and degrees during your Master studies,

•  a reference letter of the promoter of your master thesis,

•  a summary of your previous research experience (if applicable),

•  an example of technical writing, e.g., thesis, essay, course report or scientific paper,

•  a publication list (if applicable). 

Application deadline: 3rd October 2016

Anticipated start date: no later than 1st April 2017

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Hugo Thienpont
Prof. Dr. Ir.
Hugo Thienpont
Managing Director
Nadia Cornand

Nadia Cornand
+32 2 791 68 52

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