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PhD: Bottom-up fabrication of 3D nanostructures with atomic-level control

PhD: Bottom-up fabrication of 3D nanostructures with atomic-level control

Applied Physics
Graduate Program(s)
Applied Physics



The fabrication of nanoelectronics currently relies almost completely on top-down processing, which is becoming more and more demanding now that the devices of the future predominantly consists of 3D nanostructures. In this project recently funded with an ERC Starting Grant, the goal is to synthesize materials using atoms as building blocks in a bottom-up fashion. While this ambition connects to Feynman’s vision formulated in his lecture “There is plenty of room at the bottom”, the realisation of bottom-up fabrication still remains a challenge, especially when considering approaches that can employed for high-volume manufacturing. To this end, the popular thin film deposition technique of atomic layer deposition (ALD) will be used as a starting point, which allows for the processing of materials with atomic-level control.

In this project, new approaches for selective deposition will be developed, i.e. approaches that enable the deposition of material only there where it is needed, as an alternative to top-down fabrication involving photolithography and etching. The focus will be on two different flavours of selective deposition: (i) topographically-selective deposition by distinguishing between horizontally- and vertically-oriented surfaces, (ii) area-selective deposition in 3D nanostructures by distinguishing between surfaces of different materials. The experiments will involve the exposure of surfaces to plasmas and the functionalization of surfaces with (organic) inhibitor molecules.

Project & Job description

We are looking for a PhD student who is interested in performing fundamental experimental studies towards the development of these selective deposition approaches. A variety of experimental techniques will be employed to obtain insights into the growth and the surface chemistry such as in-situ ellipsometry and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. In order to demonstrate selective processes, depositions will be performed on 3D nanostructures samples, and analyzed by scanning and transmission electron microscopy. These experimental studies will be complemented with theoretical studies together with other project members. This PhD is a 4-year position intended to start from January 2021.


The work will be performed in the group Plasma & Materials Processing at the Department of Applied Physics at the TU/e. The PMP group focuses on the advancement of the science and technology of plasma and materials processing, a research area which is in essence multidisciplinary and encompasses the research fields of plasma physics, surface science, and materials science. The scientific objective of the group is to obtain “atomic” level understanding of the interaction of plasmas and gases with materials.



For this PhD position, we are looking for a highly talented, enthusiastic, and exceptionally motivated candidate with MSc degree (or equivalent) in (Applied) Physics, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Material Science, or similar. He/she must have a strong background in either physics or chemistry. Experience in the areas of plasma physics, surface science, or thin film deposition would be an asset, but is not a requirement. To facilitate the collaboration within the project, the candidate should have interest in the interpretation of theoretical studies, as well as in device fabrication schemes. Good communication skills in English (both written and spoken) are required.

Responsibilities and tasks:

  • Investigation of the interactions between plasmas and materials using various in-situ diagnostic techniques.
  • Development of selective ALD processes (e.g. topographically-selective, area-selective), analysis of the deposited films, and demonstration of the selectivity.
  • Report results to collaborators, preparation of scientific papers and conference presentations.
  • Daily supervision of BSc, and MSc.


  • MSc degree in (Applied) Physics, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Material Science, or a comparable domain.
  • Excellent mastering of the English language, good communication skills. Note that there is no Dutch language requirement.
  • Be a team player and able to work in a dynamic, interdisciplinary context.


  • A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university with the possibility to present your work at international conferences.
  • A full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation after one year.
  • To support you during your PhD and to prepare you for the rest of your career, you will have free access to a personal development program for PhD students (PROOF program).
  • A gross monthly salary between € 2.395,- and € 3.061,-(on a fulltime basis), depending on experience and knowledge. The salary is in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement of the Dutch Universities.
  • Benefits in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities.
  • Additionally, an annual holiday allowance of 8% of the yearly salary, plus a year-end allowance of 8.3% of the annual salary.
  • A broad package of fringe benefits, including an excellent technical infrastructure, moving expenses, and savings schemes.
  • Family-friendly initiatives are in place, such as an international spouse program, and excellent on-campus children day care and sports facilities.

Informatie en sollicitatie

Do you recognize yourself in this profile and would you like to know more? Please contact A.J.M. Mackus: A.J.M.Mackus[at]

For information about terms of employment, please contact HR services: hrservices.flux[at]

Please visit to find out more about working at TU/e!

Applications should include:

  • A cover letter explaining your motivation and qualifications for the position. Please describe in a separate paragraph why you are specifically interested in this project.
  • A detailed CV
  • A list of publications and conference contributions
  • Names and contact information of two or more references

Screening of applications will start as soon as applications are received and will continue until the position has been filled.