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PhD scholarship - Novel optical design methods for gravitational wave interferometers

PhD scholarship - Novel optical design methods for gravitational wave interferometers

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) invites applications for outstanding PhD candidates in the field of photonics engineering.

The Faculteit Ingenieurswetenschappen, Department Toegepaste natuurkunde en fotonica, is looking for a PhD-student with a doctoral grant. More concretely your work package, for the preparation of a doctorate, contains:

  • You will join the Brussels Photonics (B-PHOT) research group of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in Belgium to build the next generation gravitational wave (GW) interferometers enabling the detection of cosmic gravitational background to advance our knowledge on the earliest phases of the universe.
  • You will be involved in the research on novel optical design methods for the interferometer.
  • VUB B-PHOT's facilities and the Einstein Telescope Pathfinder at Maastricht University (NL) will support you in prototyping, characterisation and testing of the interferometer optics.
  • During the PhD, a collaboration is foreseen with partners of the ET Pathfinder consortium (Belgium-The Netherlands-Germany).
  • The open position is within the iBOF network of excellence “Unlocking the Dark Universe with Gravitational Wave Observations: from Quantum Optics to Quantum Gravity”.

For this function, our Brussels Photonics Campus (Gooik) will serve as your home base.

Position Description

What do we expect from you?

  • You have a Master's degree in Engineering (Photonics, Electronics and Information Technology) or Physics or a diploma recognized as equivalent by competent university authorities.
  • You must know about optical design, preferably of laser-based optical systems and interferometers.
  • Both experience with optical design and interferometry is an added value for this PhD position.
  • You express yourself fluently in English.
  • You have a keen interest to conduct groundbreaking research in the field of Applied Physics and Photonics and the ambition to obtain a PhD in Engineering.
  • You look forward to transfer your knowledge and insights to students at Master level with great enthusiasm.
  • You have not performed any works in the execution of a mandate as an assistant, paid from operating resources, over a total (cumulated) period of more than 12 months.


You’ll be offered a full-time PhD-scholarship, for 12 months (extendable up to max. 48 months, on condition of the positive evaluation of the PhD activities), with planned starting date 01/02/2022. You’ll receive a grant linked to one of the scales set by the government.

IMPORTANT: The effective result of the doctorate scholarship is subject to the condition precedent of your enrolment as a doctorate student at the university.

At the VUB, you’re guaranteed an open, involved and diverse workplace where you are offered opportunities to (further) build on your career.

As well as this, you’ll enjoy various benefits:

  • Full reimbursement for your home-work commute with public transport according to VUB-policy, or compensation if you come by bike;
  • Cost-free hospitalisation insurance;
  • The space to form your job content and continuously learn via VUB LRN;
  • Excellent facilities for sport and exercise;
  • Ecocheques;
  • Delicious meals at attractive prices in our campus restaurants;
  • An open, family-friendly work environment where attention is paid to work-life balance, and exceptional holiday arrangements with 35 days of leave (based on a fulltime contract).


Is this the job you’ve been dreaming of?

Apply online and at latest on 26/11/2021 your CV, letter of motivation and the highest degree you’ve attained (not applicable for VUB alumni): APPLY HERE.

Do you have questions about the job content? Contact Michael Vervaeke at or on 0032 485 400395.

Would you like to know what it’s like to work at the VUB? Go to and find all there is to know about our campuses, benefits, strategic goals and your future colleagues.

Deadline: November 26, 2021

Figure 1: The ETPatfinder prototype gravitational wave telescope
Figure 2: Main interferometer suspended Si-mirrors
Figure 3: A black hole merger leading to a detectable gravitational wave

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