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Call for a PhD position in numerical photonics

University faculty : Sciences
Grade : PhD
Contract : durée déterminée 1 an, renouvelable pour un deuxième mandat de 2 ans
Category : scientific personnel


“Moiré phOtONic platformS for enHanced lIght-matter iNtEractions (MOONSHINE)”

The Laboratory of Solid-State Physics in the Science Faculty of the University of Namur (Belgium), more especially the team of Dr Michaël Lobet, is looking for a PhD candidate for a FNRS (Fond National de la Recherche Scientifique) project on the topic of “**Moiré phOtONic platformS for enHanced lIght-matter iNtEractions (MOONSHINE)**” to perform theoretical and numerical calculations in the novel domain of “twistoptics”, in collaboration with UCLouvain, Belgium for the fabrication part.

Research/project description

Twistoptics is the emerging branch of photonics studying novel platforms made of two photonic crystals disoriented relative to each other, with a tunable rotation angle. They are directly inspired by twistronics, investigating the electronic properties of twisted 2D materials. The latter emerging field is boosting solid-state physics research because unconventional properties such as flat bands in the electronic band structure, vanishing Dirac velocity of electrons and enhanced density of states are evidenced at low twist angles. Those platforms demonstrated electronically tunable superconducting and insulating phases as well as topological properties. Driven by the electronic-photonic analogy, twisted structures start appearing in photonics with similar extremely flat bands in their photonic band structure and consequently slow light properties. However, twistoptics is a nascent field, full of fundamental, numerical and technological challenges.

The present project aims at taking advantage of the slow light properties of twisted photonic crystals in order to design an optical on-chip memory. This quest will bring a new understanding of this emerging field of photonics. The hired PhD will seek in-depth understanding of light localization-delocalization, light’s dynamic in twisted photonic crystals, its fundamental possibilities and limits. Dynamically tuning the properties of twisted photonic crystals is also at the agenda. The results will set twistoptics as a new tool for photonics. The outcome of this project will impact other domains of wave physics, such as phononics, acoustics, heat or seismic waves propagation.

The project is funded by the FNRS – Belgian National Science foundation – for four years, with a theoretical and numerical part at UNamur (the present offer) and nanofabrication and characterization at UCLouvain (a post-doctoral fellow).

Research environment:

The lab, part of the NISM institute (Namur Institute of Structured Matter), has a long-standing expertise in theoretical and numerical physics, especially in electronic properties and photonics. The direct work environment is composed of experienced researchers such as Dr Michaël Lobet (PI for the current call), Prof. Luc Henrard, Prof. Olivier Deparis and Dr Alexandre Mayer.

The candidate will benefit from the scientific network of the lab including of several high-ranked universities, such as Harvard, MIT, UPenn, University of Navarra, Tsinghua University, DTU,… Close collaboration with the team of Prof. Benoit Hackens at UCLouvain is expected and internship at Harvard (Prof. Eric Mazur) is foreseen. The lab members have access to state-of-the-art HPC Tier 2 facilities through the CECI consortium. The capabilities of the CECI clusters cover a range of facilities including very fast CPUs and GPU accelerators. We also have access to supercomputer facilities of the regional Tier-1 (Zenobe) and projects can be submitted to the EuroHPC initiative.

Over the years, the lab developed either homemade codes (rigorous couple wave analysis, plane wave expansions, finite-difference time domain method, etc.), know-how using open softwares under GNU license (MEEP, MPB, etc.) or commercial solutions (Lumerical FDTD, Comsol Multiphysics) required to perform the present project.

The University of Namur has been awarded with the “HR Excellence in Research” label in 2013 confirming its alignment of HR policies with the principles of the European Charter for Researcher and a code of conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. Namur is the capital city of the French-speaking part of Belgium. It is located 60 km south (or 1h by train) of Brussels and is surrounded by a beautiful countryside.

The PhD will join a nascent team, composed of master and PhD students. The team is dynamic and cares for the well-being of its members (team building, scientific retreat, etc.).

Recent publications of the team

• M. Lobet, N. Kinsey, I. Liberal, H. Caglayan, P. A. Huidobro, E. Galiffi, J. R. Mejía-Salazar, G. Palermo, Z. Jacob, N. Maccaferri, "New horizons in near-zero refractive index photonics and hyperbolic metamaterials." ACS Photonics, 10, 3805–3820 (2023).

• M. Lobet, I. Liberal, L. Vertchenko, A. Lavrinenko, N. Engheta, E. Mazur, “Momentum considerations inside near-zero index materials”, Light Sci Appl 11, 110 (2022).

• O. Mello, Y. Li, S.A. Camayd-Muñoz, C. DeVault, M. Lobet, H. Tang, M. Lonçar, E. Mazur "Extended many-body superradiance in diamond epsilon near-zero metamaterials", Appl. Phys. Lett. 120, 061105 (2022).

• H. Bi, M. Lobet, S. Saikin, Y. Li, C. Huo, J. Jiahuang, W. Xiaohong J. Reichert, A. Aspuru-Guzik, E. Mazur, “Optically-induced molecular logic operations”, ACS Nano, 14,11, 15248-15255, 2020.

• M. Lobet, I. Liberal, E. N. Knall, M. Zahirul Alam, O. Reshef, R. W. Boyd, N. Engheta, E. Mazur, “Fundamental Radiative Processes in Near-Zero-Index Media of Various Dimensionalities”, ACS Photonics, 7 (8), 1965-1970 (2020).

• Liberal, M. Lobet, Y. Li, N. Engheta, “Near-zero index media as electromagnetic ideal fluids”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117 (39) 24050-24054 (2020).


The selected PhD student will be offered a 2-year grant, once renewable with 2 more years after positive evaluation. The salary will be commensurate to the standard scale for PhD students in Belgium, i.e. around 2400€ a month. The starting date is foreseen between May 1st 2024 and October 1st 2024.


Eligibility criteria

PhD applicants must hold (or be in the immediate vicinity of obtaining) an M.Sc. degree in physics, astrophysics, mathematics, engineering, or a closely related subject. Expertise in photonics, numerical methods, and/or scientific computing/HPC are strong assets but not a requirement. A fluent knowledge of English is expected. Team player spirit, willing to collaborate with external institution colleagues, autonomy in work as well as transparency are looked for.

Additional information

Selection process

The application will require:

  • A curriculum vitae including publications and teaching experiences if any.
  • A list of all master courses with corresponding ECTS and individual scores obtained.
  • A personal letter (1-3 pages) introducing yourself, describing your previous research fields and main research results if any, describing your personal goals and how you fit in the application.
  • Up to 3 persons of reference that could be contacted to assess the applicant’s qualifications.

For more information, please contact Dr Michaël Lobet, email: michael.lobet@unamur.be

Selection process

  • You can apply for this job no later than 15/03/2024 by sending the complete application by email to michael.lobet@unamur.be.
  • Selected candidates will be interviewed either in person or online.
  • During the interview, the candidate will present himself and give a scientific technical presentation of a publication that will be provided by the PI in advance of the interview.
  • The candidate will receive the chance to interact with team members to gauge their insertion in the work environment.

Selection criteria

  • The application is complete (go/no-go);
  • Scientific quality of the candidate (60%)
  • Technical skills (25%)
  • Fit in the work environment (15%)