Two PHD positions: Metasurfaces for energy-efficient wave-based computing

Date posted February 2, 2024
Type PhD positions

Are you fascinated by the idea of using light for all-optical information processing? Can you envision optical metasurfaces that perform operations on data at the speed of light? Are you motivated to contribute to new technologies that realize radical improvements in the energy efficiency of information and communication technology? As part of the Dutch consortium NL-ECO on energy-efficient computing, AMOLF is seeking talented and motivated candidates for two open PhD positions on Wave-based computing with programmable optical metasurfaces.   

Metasurfaces are ultra-flat and compact nanophotonic elements that are pursued worldwide to replace conventional bulky optical elements like mirrors, lenses, and prisms. Going beyond simple optics replacements, metasurfaces can also perform data processing on optical signals, with particular relevance to image processing like edge detection, feature recognition, or operations that resolve wavelength or polarization information. We have two open positions addressing the following questions:

  1. Suppose optical signals are encoded in space like an image, in wavelength and polarization. How do you then design metasurfaces to perform common image processing steps, nowadays done on a PC, optimally in the optical domain? Can you use metasurfaces for all-optical feature extraction? What are the limits to stacking metasurfaces for more complicated algorithms? You will perform electromagnetic design and optimization, and demonstrate concepts in optical experiments
  1. Can we realize programmable, trainable and dynamically reconfigurable metasurfaces? Can you switch between metasurface functions by incorporating suitable materials? If so, what are the limits in energy and speed? Can you train such active metasurfaces to realize all-optical neural network functions? We envision using novel materials as metasurface constituents, such as phase change materials that show strong and reversible changes in their linear and nonlinear optical response.

About the group

The positions are part of a collaborative effort involving the groups of F. Koenderink, S. Rodriguez and E. Verhagen.  The successful candidates will have their home base in the Resonant Nanophotonics group (position 1) and Interacting photons group (position 2), and are expected to collaborate with all involved partners.

Resonant Nanophotonics group. The research activities in the Resonant Nanophotonics group at AMOLF (PI Femius Koenderink) aim at developing nanoscale photonic structures, such as plasmonics and metasurfaces, to control scattering, emission, amplification and detection of light. Our work has applications in the domains of metasurface optics, optical metrology, microscopy, and nanophotonic light sources.

Interacting photons group  In the Interacting Photons group we search for new physics emerging from photon-photon interactions and noise in optical resonators.  We are fascinated by emergent phenomena and novel functionalities of optical systems. Most of our group members enjoy both experiment and theory.

All projects in the groups involve the use and development of advanced optical measurement techniques and nanofabrication, with extensive support from the group leader and AMOLF technical staff.  The groups span the entire research cycle from developing advanced nanophotonic concepts, to theory and numerical design, to realization in the lab. Within the group as well as among the different groups at AMOLF, we have a strong focus on stimulating development of students in all professional aspects, as well as collaborations with other researchers at AMOLF and beyond. We value an inclusive and diverse environment. You will have access to state-of-the-art experimental systems that will uniquely enable you to reach the goals of this project.

AMOLF performs leading research on the fundamental physics and design principles of natural and man-made complex matter. AMOLF leverages these insights to create novel functional materials, and to find solutions to societal challenges in renewable energy, green ICT, and health care. The research projects will be embedded in the interdisciplinary Information in Matter department, and benefits from the strong AMOLF expertise in nanphotonics, spectroscopy, and nanomaterials. AMOLF is one of the NWO-I national research institutes located at the Amsterdam Science Park, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It has approximately 140 scientist and a total size of ca. 220 employees. Furthermore it hosts the NanoLab Amsterdam clean room, which is part of the national NanoLabNL cleanroom network. See also


We seek an excellent candidate with a master’s degree in physics, photonics, nanoscience, or a related field, and with an affinity to both experiment and theory. You have strong social, organizational and communication skills, and are eager to engage with colleagues in your own field, and with the larger Dutch community working on energy-efficient computing. You like to work both independently and in a collaborative team. We strongly believe in the benefits of an inclusive and diverse environment, and encourage people from all backgrounds 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 four years, with a starting salary of gross € 2.781 per month and a range of employment benefits. After successful completion of the PhD research a PhD degree will be granted at the University of Amsterdam or Eindhoven University. Several courses are offered, specially developed for PhD-students. AMOLF assists any new foreign PhD-student 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

Dr. Said Rodriguez
Group leader Interacting Photons
Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100

You can respond to this vacancy online via the button below.
Please annex your:
–  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.

Commercial activities in response to this ad are not appreciated.