The Department of Molecular Physics at the Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft ( performs research on the structure and the intra- and inter-molecular dynamics of molecular systems, from diatomic molecules to biological macromolecules, either in isolation or in interaction with their environment. For this, new experimental methods to manipulate and control, to characterise and to spectroscopically investigate these molecular systems are developed and exploited. Central in many of those experimental activities is the FHI free electron laser (FHI-FEL), which allows to perform IR spectroscopy on a broad range of molecular systems. To further advance the technology and the research such lasers allow, the Max Planck Society and Radboud University (Nijmegen, NL) have established a Max Planck–Radboud University Center ( In the framework of the research projects of the Center, several PhD Student positions are available, both at Radboud University as well as at the Fritz-Haber-Institut.

One of the collaborative projects is named "Carbocations in organic and astrochemistry: investigation by IR ion spectroscopy". The ability to form various types of stable covalent bonds, but at the same time undergo facile chemical conversions, explains the central place that carbon occupies within the chemical sciences and in many organic chemical reactions, carbocationic species have been invoked as intermediates. Apart from organic chemistry, even-electron carbonaceous ions are also of special interest in astrochemistry. The high cosmic abundance of carbon combined with the long lifetime of gaseous ionic species in dilute, astrophysical environments, promote the abundance of ionized carbonaceous molecules, including for instance polyaromatic molecules and fullerenes. The aim of this collaborative project is to address the IR spectroscopy and molecular structure of a range of carbocations in the gas phase and FEL-based ion spectroscopies will be used to investigate these species.

For this project a

PhD Student Position (m/w/d)

is available at the FHI. The postition ist for three years.

• MSc degree in Chemistry, Physics or Physical Chemistry with excellent grades in relevant courses,
• Affinity for performing complex experiments with high drive to solve scientific and practical/instrumental challenges,
• Experience with molecular simulations (e.g. ab-initio, DFT) and programming languages (e.g. Matlab or Phyton) is preferred,
• Collaborative spririt and ability to work in an international research environment,
• Willingness to spend about 20 % of the time at the partner group in the Netherlands.

Your application should include:
• Curriculum vitae,
• List of peer-reviewed publications,
• Names and email adressess of three potential references.

Applications for this position are only accepted via our online application portal
Closing date: Applications will be accepted from immediately until October 31, 2021.

The FHI has set itself the goal of employing more severely disabled people. Applications from severely disabled people are expressly welcome.

The FHI strives for gender equality and diversity. We welcome applications from all backgrounds.

The FHI aims to increase the proportion of women in those areas where they are underrepresented. Women are therefore explicitly encouraged to apply.

For more information please contact:
Dr. Gert von Helden, Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Department of Molecular Physics, 14195 Berlin, Germany, email:

Back to overview Online application