HomeJobsPhD Position in Dark Matter Search with Liquid Xenon Detectors

PhD Position in Dark Matter Search with Liquid Xenon Detectors


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Research / Academic


Would you like to work with a passionate, international team of scientists, engineers, and technicians to build world-class dark matter detectors in deep-underground research labs? Are you a motivated, creative team-player who enjoys problem solving and learning new skills? We offer a PhD project that has it all: experiment design, construction, operation, computing, data analysis, and interpretation at the cutting edge of astroparticle physics.

What are you going to do?

You will work within the Nikhef Dark Matter group and will become a member of the XENON and DARWIN collaborations and the XLZD consortium. The XENONnT dark matter detector, operated by the XENON collaboration, is currently taking data. The future DARWIN/XLZD detector is expected to enable a varied physics program with sensitivity to several dark matter candidates as well as to neutrino interactions. The Nikhef Dark Matter group has made significant contributions to the XENON1T and XENONnT data acquisition system and read-out software, as well as to the mechanical design of detector components. The group is furthermore active in operation and various data analysis tasks of the XENONnT detector. Locally at Nikhef, the Dark Matter group operates a small liquid-xenon TPC for R&D purposes, and a setup to study material properties at the wavelengths of liquid xenon scintillation.

You are expected to contribute to analysis of data from the currently running XENONnT detector, as well as to detector operation. You will use the insights gained from this to contribute to the design of the future DARWIN/XLZD detector. The latter includes a simulation/modelling component, as well as measurements at the Nikhef labs to characterise materials to be used in DARWIN. The overall focus of the project is on investigating sources of low intensity light and charge signals observed in liquid-xenon TPCs, and on mitigating them in future detectors to make the detectors more sensitive to low-energy signals, such as those from solar neutrinos. The physics analysis could focus on solar neutrinos or low-mass WIMPs, or on another low-energy process you are interested in.

You will be stationed at Nikhef in Amsterdam, with occasional visits to LNGS in Italy, where the XENONnT detector is located. Regular travel to international (collaboration)meetings will also be required.


Your experience and profile:

  • obtained, or are close to obtaining, a master’s degree (or equivalent) in physics
  • strong interest in data analysis, modelling, and simulation, as well as in detector design/measurement techniques
  • good software skills are a prerequisite (as demonstrated in any common programming language), and you will be expected to learn Python and possibly some C++
  • prior experience in data analysis and statistical methods, in modelling and simulation, and/or in detector design and operation (vacuum systems, gas handling systems, scintillation detectors, PMTs, SiPMs, optics, etc.)
  • excellent verbal and written communication skills in the English language.

Salary Benefits:

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). The preferred starting date is as soon as possible. This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and dependent on relevant experience, ranges between € 2,541 to € 3,247 (scale P). This does not include 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% year-end allowance. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Universities of the Netherlands is applicable.

Besides the salary and a vibrant and challenging environment at Science Park we offer you multiple fringe benefits:

  • 232 holiday hours per year (based on fulltime) and extra holidays between Christmas and 1 January;
  • multiple courses to follow from our Teaching and Learning Centre;
  • a complete educational program for PhD students;
  • multiple courses on topics such as leadership for academic staff;
  • multiple courses on topics such as time management, handling stress and an online learning platform with 100+ different courses;
  • 7 weeks birth leave (partner leave) with 100% salary;
  • partly paid parental leave;
  • the possibility to set up a workplace at home;
  • a pension at ABP for which UvA pays two third part of the contribution;
  • the possibility to follow courses to learn Dutch;
  • help with housing for a studio or small apartment when you’re moving from abroad.

Are you curious to read more about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits, take a look here.

Work Hours:

38 hours per week


Science Park 904

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