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PhD student for a clock-based search for ultra light dark matter

Brandenburg, Germany
Posting live until
20 Apr 2023

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Job Details

For our location in Zeuthen we are seeking:

PhD student for a clock-based search for ultra light dark matter Limited: 3 years | Starting date: earliest possible | ID: APDO001/2023 | Deadline: 30.04.2023 | Part-time

DESY, with more than 2700 employees at its two locations in Hamburg and Zeuthen, is one of the world's leading research centres. Its research focuses on decoding the structure and function of matter, from the smallest particles of the universe to the building blocks of life. In this way, DESY contributes to solving the major questions and urgent challenges facing science, society and industry. With its ultramodern research infrastructure, its interdisciplinary research platforms and its international networks, DESY offers a highly attractive working environment in the fields of science, technology and administration as well as for the education of highly qualified young scientists.

The Zeuthen location of DESY has a strong focus on astroparticle and particle physics (gamma-ray and neutrino astronomy, and collider particle physics). The experimental groups are accompanied by a strong astroparticle theory group. Our understanding of nature, as described by the Standard Model of particle physics and by cosmology, famously fails to account for almost 95% of the mass-energy content of the Universe, including the illusive Dark Matter. The lack of direct evidence for the existence of Dark Matter has led the scientific community to devise increasingly sophisticated detection methods. In this context, quantum technology allows the realisation of the most precise and sensitive scientific instruments ever built.

This PhD project aims at harnessing the huge potential of new and emerging quantum technologies to provide a significant step forward in this exciting quest. The student will construct an ultra-advanced atomic clock based on cold and trapped highly-charged ions, which are the most sensitive elements to search for temporal and spatial variations of the so-called fine structure constant. In the case a variation of the "ticking" of the clock is observed, it will provide the first direct and quantitative evidence of violations of the Standard Model, with huge implication on our understanding of the Universe and the origin of dark matter. This is a joint PhD project between DESY Zeuthen, the Humboldt University of Berlin, the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, and the University of Birmingham in the UK. A large fraction of the PhD will be spent in MPI Heidelberg to develop the experimental apparatus and to assemble and characterize a compact electron beam ion trap (EBIT) that will allow us to produce and trap highly charged ions. The student will then cool, trap and interrogate the highly-charged ions to measure the stability of the fine structure constant, and participate in the interpretation of the data to search for evidence of Dark Matter.

About your role:

  • Active role in EBIT development and testing for highly charged ions;
  • Develop instrumentation for measuring fundamental constants;
  • Participate in the collaboration between DESY, HU, Heidelberg, and U. Birmingham;
  • Analyze experimental atomic clock data and participate in the interpretation of results.

About you:

  • Excellent university degree in experimental physics or equivalent qualification;
  • Very good knowledge in detector physics and corresponding simulations;
  • Good knowledge in experimental physics and good programming skills;
  • Very good command of English is required and knowledge of German is of advantage;
  • Excellent teamwork abilities in an international environment;

Good reasons to join:

Look forward to a unique working environment on our international research campus. We attach particular importance to appreciative cooperation and the well-being of our DESY employees. Gender equality is an important aspect for us. To support work life balance we offer flexible working hours, variable part-time, job-sharing models and participation in mobile work. You will benefit from our family-friendly and collegial atmosphere, our established health management and occupational pension provision. As a publicly funded employer, we offer you a secure workplace and facilitate your individual career with our comprehensive training and development opportunities. Remuneration is according to the regulations of the TV-AVH. DESY offers its employees a financial supplement for a job ticket at both locations.

For further information please contact Prof. Dr. Steven Worm at +49 33762 7‑7208 ( or Prof. Dr. José Crespo López-Urrutia (

Please arrange for three letters of reference to be sent to the DESY human resource department by using our online tool: Additional application documents

We look forward to receiving your application via our application portal.

Apply now!

DESY promotes equal opportunities and diversity. The professional development of women is very important to us and therefore we strongly encourage women to apply for the vacant position.
Applications from severely disabled persons will be given preference if they are equally qualified.

You can find further information here:

Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY
Human Resources Department | Notkestraße 85 | 22607 Hamburg
Phone: +49 40 8998-3392


DESY profile imageBecome a part of DESY, one of the world’s leading accelerator centres. Researchers use the large-scale facilities at DESY to explore the microcosm in all its variety – from the interactions of tiny elementary particles and the behaviour of new types of nanomaterials, to biomolecular processes that are essential to life.

Why work for us
DESY is not only an employer for 2500 people from more than 65 nations, but also a magnet for more than 3000 guest researchers each year from all over the world using our unique research tools. Committed young researchers find an exciting interdisciplinary setting at DESY. We strive to achieve a balanced relationship between our work at DESY and our private lives, and we promote equal opportunity and a healthy balance between professional and family life.

Training and development
We offer young scientists an international and interdisciplinary setting for ambitious scientific projects, and we provide the appropriate training and working environment for a variety of technical and administrative professions. DESY offers a large number of internal training programmes for all career stages as well as individual talent management courses and mentoring programmes, and therefore supports the career path of every single person in our institute.

Graduate schemes
DESY covers the whole educational lifecycle of a scientist – from internships, summer-school programmes for undergraduates, bachelor and Master’s theses, graduate schools, all the way to specific fellowship programmes, young investigator groups and professorship programmes.

What we are looking for
In order to maintain our top-level position and to achieve our future scientific goals, the highest attribute that we are looking for is passion. This means that we are not only focusing on just the very best talents, but the ones combining knowledge, ambition, curiosity and dedication towards science and its surrounding areas in one personality.

Hamburg and Zeuthen, Germany

Number of employees

Positions recently recruited for
Beamline scientists and engineers, laser and control engineers, scientists detector development, DESY fellowships in accelerator R&D/photon science/particle physics, computer scientists, electrical engineers, software developer, and many more

Desired degree disciplines/class
From interns to trainees, from students to graduates, from PhD to postdocs, all in a wide variety of specializations

How to apply
Apply online at

Closing date
All year round

Tel +49 40 8998 3392

Company info
+49 40 8998 3392
Notkestraße 85

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