PhD position: Conformationally Controlled Chemistry in the Gas Phase

A PhD position is available in the group of Prof. Stefan Willitsch at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Basel in Switzerland (www.coldions.chemie.unibas.ch). The project aims at exploring the role of individual molecular conformations on the chemical reactivity and dynamics of reactions in the gas phase. 

Project description

The relationship between structure and reactivity is one of the central tenets of chemistry. In spite of the long history of inquiries into this problem, there is still a glaring lack of experimental data on structure-reactivity relationships studied under single-collision conditions. In particular, complex molecules possess multiple conformers (rotational isomers) that interconvert through hindered rotations about covalent bonds. It is well established that the molecular conformation can have a pronounced influence on the chemical reactivity. However, in room-temperature solution- or gas-phase experiments, conformers usually interconvert into one another through thermal motion leading to mixtures in which all specificity is lost. 

The present PhD project will employ new experimental methods developed by our group for studying chemical reactions of individual conformers prepared by electrostatic deflection in the gas phase. Such gas-phase studies are the cleanest and most accurate approach to disentangle different aspects contributing to chemical reactivity and are, therefore, vital for understanding the microscopic details of chemical processes. The present studies will focus on reactions of specific conformations of prototypical organic molecules with free radicals in order to gain an in-depth understanding of fundamental aspects of conformer-specific reactivity in selected model systems. 

The position will be part of a joint project with Prof. Sang Kyu Kim at the Korean Institute of Technology (KAIST) within the Korean-Swiss Science and Technology Programme and will involve exchange visits with the Korean partner where the photochemistry of the same model systems will be studied. The present project thus offers a unique opportunity to pursue a holistic approach to the problem of structure-reactivity relationships from which we expect to gain new fundamental insights into the factors defining chemical reactivity. 

Further information and applications

For further information and recent publications on the topic, please refer to the group's website www.coldions.chemie.unibas.ch

Inquiries and applications should be sent to Prof. Stefan Willitsch (stefan.willitsch@unibas.ch). Candidates should have (or soon obtain) a masters degree in physical chemistry, atomic/molecular/chemical physics or a related field. Applications should include a curriculum vitae, transcripts of degree certificates and grades, a letter of motivation and the contact details of at least two referees.

PhD position: Cold Ion-Molecule Hybrid Systems

A PhD position is available in the group of Prof. Stefan Willitsch, University of Basel, Switzerland (www.coldions.chemie.unibas.ch). The project aims at investigating ion-neutral interactions, collisions and chemical reactions in the millikelvin temperature regime using new experimental methods for the the combined trapping of cold neutral molecules with cold molecular ions. 

Project description

Enabled by the recent development of experimental techniques for the simultaneous trapping of translationally cold ions and atoms, the study of interactions between these species at temperatures down to the millikelvin range has emerged as a new scientific field at the interface between chemistry and physics over the past few years. These ”hybrid” systems of cold ions and atoms have formed the basis of exciting new avenues of research for investigating interactions between these species at extremely low energies, for engineering new types of quantum systems and for exploring collisional and chemical processes in a new physical regime. The present project will employ a newly developed experiment which for the first time allows the simultaneous trapping of cold neutral molecules and cold molecular ions which substantially enhances the scientific scope of hybrid trapping experiments. It combines techniques established in the domains of quantum optics and atomic and molecular physics in a new fashion in order to investigate problems of molecular and chemical dynamics.

The present project aims at studying cold collisions in a range of prototypical and fundamental ion-molecule hybrid systems. It will utilise new experimental techniques for studies of the collisional and chemical dynamics of ionic processes which enable a precise level of control over collision parameters such as collision energies and molecular quantum states. We thus expect that the project will provide new insights into fundamental principles of molecular energy transfer, chemical reactivity and cold collision dynamics.

Further information and applications

For further information and recent publications on the topic, please contact stefan.willitsch@unibas.ch or refer to the website of the group at www.coldions.chemie.unibas.ch.

Candidates should have (or soon obtain) a masters degree in atomic/molecular/chemical physics, physical chemistry or a related field. Inquiries and applications should be sent to stefan.willitsch@unibas.ch and include a curriculum vitae, transcripts of degree certificates and grades, a letter of motivation and the contact details of at least two referees. 

PhD position in molecular quantum technologies within the QUSTEC PhD programme

Applications for a PhD position in the group of Prof. Stefan Willitsch at the University of Basel (Switzerland) (www.coldions.chemie.unibas.ch)  are invited. This position will be offered within the newly established PhD programme "QUSTEC - Quantum Science and Technology at the European Campus” (www.eucor-uni.org/en/qustec).

Following the resounding successes with atomic and solid-state systems, the development of quantum technologies for molecular systems has made rapid progress over the past few years and has established a new exciting scientific frontier in Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics. The ability to fully coherently manipulate single isolated molecules now opens up a wealth of exciting research directions in the molecular sciences.

Experiments in this domain have so far focused on applications of this technology in spectroscopy and precision measurements. In the present project, we will harness molecular state-preparation, readout and manipulation schemes recently developed in our group to probe for the first time collisional and chemical properties on the single-molecule level in a fully coherent manner. 

We expect that this new approach will provide new insights into molecular collisions, molecular energy transfer and chemical transformations at a level of detail which has not been attainable before. The project is highly interdisciplinary and connects atomic physics, the quantum sciences, molecular physics and chemistry in a new and original fashion.

Inquiries about the application procedure for this position should be sent to Prof. Stefan Willitsch (stefan.willitsch@unibas.ch) and be accompanied by a CV and a letter of motivation. Applicants should have a master degree in physics, preferably in experimental atomic, molecular, optical (AMO), quantum or chemical physics.