PhD-student: Cathodoluminescence tomography for semiconductor device inspection and analysis

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Did you know high-energy electrons can serve as efficient sources of optical excitation of matter? Our group has developed cathodoluminescence (CL) microscopy, in which we use 1-30 keV electrons in a scanning electron microscope (SEM) to excite nanomaterials. The oscillating electric field carried by the electron serves as a broadband (0-30 eV) excitation source with 5 nm spatial and 5 fs temporal resolution. This enables us to study excitations and localized modes of plasmons, 2D semiconductors, and a wide range of optical metamaterials. We study excitation dynamics through time-resolved spectroscopy, correlative measurements, holography and perform 3D tomography of complex geometries.  

In this project, we will investigate the potential use of CL spectroscopy in a scanning electron microscope (SEM) as a tool for semiconductor metrology. We will collect angle-, polarization-, and time-resolved CL spectra on complex nanostructures composed of metal, semiconductor, and dielectrics, and aim to derive characteristic materials properties and feature sizes in 3D from the collected data sets. The project ranges from studies of simple model systems to complex structures like nanosheet transistors that are relevant for semiconductor manufacturing and uses tomographic techniques in combination with inverse design and machine learning tools. The aim is to determine the possibilities and limitations of the use of CL in semiconductor metrology and to develop practical workflows for CL tomography. The project will be carried out in close collaboration with the neighboring Advanced Research Center for Nanolithography (ARCNL) and the companies ASML and Delmic.

About the group

The Photonic Materials group (, led by Prof. Albert Polman, studies light-matter interactions at the nanoscale. The group is composed of an international team of 8-10 PhD students, postdocs and master students that work in a collaborative atmosphere with many social group activities. Every week we hold group meeting, CL team meeting, and departmental colloquium and poster sessions, in addition to regular journal clubs. We also regularly organize an international group labtour.

Our group is part of AMOLFs Nanophotonics and Light Management in new Photovoltaic Materials research centers that are composed of 8 research groups (50 PhD students and postdocs) that share a state-of-the-art cleanroom for nanofabrication and characterization and many other facilities.


  • You have a master’s degree in physics, chemistry, materials science, or a related field.
  • You have very strong social, organizational, and communication skills.
  • You like to work both independently and in a collaborative team.

Terms of employment

The position is intended as full-time (40 hours / week, 12 months / year) appointment in the service of the Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes (NWO-I) for the duration of four years, with a starting salary of gross € 2,781 per month and a range of employment benefits. After successful completion of the PhD research a PhD degree will be granted at a Dutch university. Several courses are offered, specially developed for PhD-students. AMOLF assists any new foreign PhD-student with housing and visa applications and compensates their transport costs and furnishing expenses.

Contact info

Prof.dr. Albert Polman
Group leader Photonic Materials
Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100

To apply, submit an application letter with a motivation why you like to join our group, and your resume with the names of three references.

Selection of candidates will continue till the positions are filled.

Online screening may be part of the selection.

AMOLF is highly committed to an inclusive and diverse work environment. Hence, we greatly encourage candidates from any personal background and perspective to apply.

Commercial activities in response to this ad are not appreciated.


PhD-student: Cathodoluminescence tomography for semiconductor device inspection and analysis
Science Park 104 Amsterdam, Niederlande
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AMOLF carries out fundamental physics with an open eye for applications. The researchers work closely with universities, institutes, and companies.

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