Postdoc: Nanophotonics for sorting chiral matter by chiral light

Date posted July 14, 2022
Type Postdoc positions

Chiral nanophotonics has recently emerged as a promising tool to perform spectroscopy on  chiral molecules. Since most of the molecular building blocks of life are chiral, there is a very large need for handedness-specific detection, synthesis, and separation of molecules.  The chiral nature of matter usually expresses in optics as a very weak circular dichroism or optical rotation effect.  The emerging field of chiral nanophotonics seeks to strongly magnify these weak chiroptical effects, by virtue of shaping locally the polarization properties of the electromagnetic field (socalled super-chiral light) in tightly confined, non-transverse, optical modes. Beyond optical signatures like circular dichroism and polarization rotation, also chiral optical forces and chiral optical torques are expected. In this project we will develop the physics of chiral optical forces for separation of enantiomers by light.  You will work in an EU research program that has as ultimate aim to realize sorting of chiral analytes (flushed in via microfluidics) on basis of enantio-selective optical forces that are generated by engineered optical spin properties of light propagating in nanophotonic waveguides. This program brings together partners with expertise in chiral nanophotonic design, in the realization of integrated nanophotonics, in design and synthesis of chiral molecules and nanoparticles, microfluidics, and in scatterometry. Within this consortium, our task at AMOLF will be to design and perform experiments that quantify the optical scattering properties of, and chiral optical forces exerted on, chiral matter by means of optical microcopy. You will build on recent developments at AMOLF in fully polarimetrically resolved Fourier microscopy, which provides a unique tool to quantify the imprint of chiroptical effects on the differential scattering cross section of nano-objects with chiral polarizability, as function of their placement in structured chiral near-fields.  In the second phase of the project you will implement tools from the optical tweezers community to quantify forces, and will study chiral sorting performance.    

About the group

The Resonant Nanophotonics group led by Prof. dr. Femius Koenderink is part of the AMOLF Physics of Information in Matter department, and part of the AMOLF collaborative training center for nanophotonics. The group investigates the fundamental physics of light-matter interactions at the nanoscale as well as the applications they allow in solid-state lighting, quantum technology, optical metrology and microscopy. The infrastructure of the group includes single-molecule microscopy,  scatterometry of single nano-objects, microcavities and integrated optics, and also femtosecond two-color interrogation of plasmonic and metamaterial objects. The project will benefit from the Amsterdam Nanolab cleanroom, in which we have already built up all the know-how to fabricate integrated dielectric circuits and nanoscatterers. We will work with the Selforganizing Matter group of Prof. Wim Noorduin, giving us access to enantiopure chiral test materials.

The Resonant Nanophotonics group is a compact and friendly research team of 5-8 people, characterized as curiosity driven, eager to explore new experiments, theory and applications alike, and where it is a core value to be collaborative and supportive to each other. Every week we hold group meeting, and in addition have departmental colloquia and poster sessions that cover the breadth of nanophotonics research at AMOLF, in addition to regular journal clubs.

For the project we will collaborate closely with the Selforganizing Matter group and a network of project partners in Spain (Valencia), Italy (Milano), the UK (King’s college), and the Netherlands (Twente). 


You need to meet the requirements for a doctors-degree and must have research experience in a non-Dutch academic environment.

We seek an excellent candidate with a background in physics,  preferably in nanophotonics and/or spectroscopy.  Candidates who have  experience with experimental techniques, yet also have affinity to nanophotonics modelling are especially encouraged to apply. The successful candidate has a collaborative spirit, and will liaise with the European project partners. The group strongly values diversity, and researchers from all backgrounds are invited to apply.

Terms of employment

The position is intended as full-time (40 hours / week, 12 months / year) appointment in the service of the Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes (NWO-I) for the duration of up to 3 years, with a salary in scale 10 (CAO-OI) and a range of employment benefits. AMOLF assists any new foreign Postdoc with housing and visa applications and compensates their transport costs and furnishing expenses.

Contact info

Prof.dr. Femius Koenderink
Group leader Resonant Nanophotonics
Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100

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–  Resume;
–  Motivation on why you want to join the group (max. 1 page).
It is important to us to know why you want to join our team. This means that we will only consider your application if it entails your motivation letter.

Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis and as soon as an excellent match is made, the position will be filled.

Online screening may be part of the selection.

AMOLF is highly committed to an inclusive and diverse work environment. Hence, we greatly encourage candidates from any personal background and perspective to apply.

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