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PhD position in Hydrogen and Antihydrogen Physics (1.0 FTE) (222600)

Job description

“An Ion Trap Source of Cold Atomic Hydrogen”
Why is our universe made of matter and not antimatter? This question has led researchers to search for subtle differences between matter and antimatter, probing the theories that underpin the Standard Model. Antihydrogen, the antimatter counterpart to hydrogen, is now routinely produced and trapped at CERN, albeit in very small numbers. Efforts are ongoing to measure the energy levels of antihydrogen with higher and higher precision, and a new experiment has recently been constructed to measure whether the anti-atoms feel an attractive or a repulsive gravitational force from the Earth.

There are obvious advantages in being able to directly compare hydrogen and antihydrogen, i.e., both species measured with the same laser, in the same trap, and (at least on average) at the same time. Such an experiment would be insensitive to systematic effects, and could result in tests of matter-antimatter symmetries with higher precision than the impressive 15 digits with which hydrogen has been measured. This PhD project will focus on developing an ion trap source of cold hydrogen for direct comparison with antihydrogen.

The prospective PhD researcher will assist in building an experiment to trap barium hydride molecular ions, and sympathetically cool them using laser cooled barium ions. The barium hydride ions will then be photodissociated to produce cold hydrogen. Further details on the scheme can be found here: This is a new experiment being set up in Groningen, presenting an exciting opportunity to be involved from the very beginning. There may also be opportunities to travel to CERN to work on the ALPHA antihydrogen experiment (


We are looking for candidates who meet the following requirements:

  • MSc degree in physics, or a closely related field
  • a strong background in quantum mechanics / atomic physics
  • a strong team player, with well-developed communication and collaboration skills
  • excellent command of written and spoken English
  • willingness to acquire a variety of additional skills ranging from basic programming and 3D modelling, to ultrahigh vacuum design.

PhD researchers are expected to develop scientific independence and complete research projects. Enthusiastic PhD researchers stay abreast of developments in the field, proactively communicate research results, supervise BSc and MSc students, and work effectively in a team and collaborate across disciplines.

Applicants whose first language is not English must submit evidence of competency in English, please see University of Groningen’s English Language Requirements for details.


The University of Groningen is a research university, currently in or around the top 100 on several influential ranking lists. The Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) is the largest faculty within the University, offering first-rate education and research in a wide range of science and engineering disciplines.

The aim of the Van Swinderen Institute for Particle Physics and Gravity is to study the fundamental forces of Nature with implications for our Universe, by connecting the physics at the Planck-scale (quantum gravity) via sub-atomic scales (particle physics) to cosmic dimensions. Both theoretical and experimental efforts are combined in three research frontiers: the cosmic frontier, the high-energy frontier and the precision frontier. The experimental research is conducted locally (precision experiments at low energies) and at CERN. The VSI is the largest university partner of the Nikhef collaboration.

Conditions of employment

We offer, following the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

  • a salary of € 2,541 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,247 gross per month in the fourth year for a full-time working week
  • a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and an 8.3% year-end bonus
  • a full-time position (1.0 FTE) of four years; the successful candidate will first be offered a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the next three years is to be expected
  • a PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Science and Engineering.

The starting date is flexible but would ideally be in late 2022/Early 2023.


Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, you’re requested to upload the following documents:

  • cover letter stating your motivation to apply for the position and your key qualities relevant for this position
  • Curriculum vitae, including master's degree, work and research experience
  • contact information of two academic references.

You may apply for this position until 1 November 11:59pm / before 2 November 2022 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website). We advise early application as the position will be filled as soon as a suitable applicant can be found.

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage:

Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers:

We provide career services for partners of new faculty members moving to Groningen.

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For information you can contact:

  • Dr. Steven Jones, S.A.Jones

Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.