Job opening: Marie Curie PhD fellowship – Theoretical Physics / Chemistry – method/software development


SCM, a scientific software company located in Amsterdam, developing software packages in the area of theoretical quantum chemistry and materials science, is participating in the EC-funded training network 2Exciting, a collaboration between several universities and companies. This Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN action provides generous funding for an Early-Stage Researcher (ESR) / PhD student with good salary and travel/mobility/family allowances. We’re looking for an outstanding postgraduate typically within 4 years of his/her MSc (see eligibility conditions below).

The successful candidate will be involved in the development of methods and software to advance the field of (one- and) two-dimensional materials, and in particular their optical properties, using spin-orbit coupling for heavy elements. Certain efficient approaches (e.g. for TDDFT(B)) that have been implemented for the molecular case in SCM’s ADF program need to be generalized to the periodic case and implemented in our BAND and/or DFTB programs. This also includes ongoing work on GW and BSE in ADF by another PhD student co-supervised by Prof. Visscher and Dr. Van Lenthe at SCM. In collaboration with another ESR these new methods then need to be applied to calculate optical excitations in two-dimensional materials under realistic conditions.

We hope that the new candidate can join us soon as possible, although starting in the summer or fall can be discussed. Salary conditions, travel/mobility allowances, and benefits will follow the attractive EU amounts for Early Stage Researchers in the H2020-MSCA-ITN-2020 call.

The 2Exciting project

The 2Exciting project contains a mix of 15 experimental and theoretical research-oriented PhD projects. The ESR will be enrolled in a PhD program at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam where Prof. Lucas Visscher ( will act as PhD supervisor, with experienced scientists at SCM, including Dr. Van Lenthe (spin-orbit effects, spectroscopy, GW, BSE) and Dr. Philipsen (TDDFT in BAND) as co-supervisors. The experienced scientific staff at SCM consists of senior PhDs focusing on software / method development, and with typically more than 10 years experience in scientific software development. Remote interactions will take place with Prof. Heine at the TU Dresden (acting as the Coordinator of 2Exciting) as well as a planned 6-month secondment in Prof. Heine’s group after the first year. Research actions are organized in conjunction with local and network-wide training, including academic and industrial specialist courses, transferable skills training, (international) workshops and training-through-research. The training events are dispersed throughout the timeline of the project, providing an ideal platform for the ESRs to flourish and become future leaders in academic or industrial research

Job requirements


  • The key point: proven algorithm and software development skills, combined with a thorough knowledge of solid-state physics and electronic structure (DFT) methods.
  • Being able to quickly grasp complex mathematical ideas in scientific publications, improve upon them, and convert them into clean and efficient source code.
  • MSc degree in Theoretical Physics or Theoretical Chemistry.
  • Maximum of four full-time years research experience after MSc degree, and not being in possession of a PhD degree.
  • Good written and verbal communication skills in the English language.
  • Willingness to relocate between Amsterdam and Dresden

Desirable additional knowledge and experience:

  • Acquaintance with (TD)DFT and post-DFT (GW, BSE) methods.
  • Some experience with programming in a team, in a large-scale software package (>100,000 lines of code).
  • Working knowledge of Fortran(90)
  • General programming skills (UNIX, debugging, etc.).
  • Team player, with good two-way communication skills, highly self-motivated and able to work independently with excellent time management skills.

What we offer

The PhD fellowships will consist of an initial 3-year full-time position, with a possible extension. The start date would be as soon as possible, although starting in the summer or fall can be discussed. Salary and secondary benefits will follow EU rules for salaries of Early Stage Researchers:

  • Supergross monthly living allowance: 3528.33 Euro / month which includes using the 7.9% extra due to the country correction factor of 1.079 for The Netherlands for the entire period.
  • Additional monthly mobility allowance of 600 Euro / month.
  • Additional monthly family allowance of 500 Euro / month for researchers who have a family (regardless of whether the family will move with the researcher or not).

In addition, the EU provides funding for training and transfer of knowledge expenses to the institutes. Tax benefits (significant parts of salary and/or allowances paid tax-free) may be applicable in The Netherlands (depending on circumstances) for a successful candidate from abroad.

SCM offers 34 paid holidays per year and flexible working hours as well as occassional remote work options. Employees are enrolled in the ABP pension fund.

The Hosts

About SCM

Software for Chemistry & Materials B.V., SCM, is an independent spin-off company of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands employing approximately 20 highly-educated people. SCM develops, maintains, and markets the Amsterdam Modeling Suite, used by computational (quantum) chemists, physicists and materials scientists in academia and industry. It includes the Amsterdam Density Functional (ADF) molecular DFT program, the periodic structure DFT program BAND, the reactive molecular dynamics program ReaxFF, approximate DFT (DFTB) software, the COSMO-RS module for thermodynamics of mixed liquids, and their respective graphical interfaces and python scripting environments.

SCM has its office space on the VU campus, at walking distance from the Amsterdam-Zuid train station. We also extensively collaborate with a growing number of academic groups and household-name industrial partners worldwide. The working atmosphere at SCM is that of an informal small team of PhDs and PhD students doing intellectually challenging work. SCM is located in the same wing of the building and closely interacts with the well-known Theoretical Chemistry (TC) professors at the VU: Visscher, Gori-Giorgi, Bickelhaupt and Fonseca Guerra as well as emeritus professor Baerends. The TC group consists of about 30 people, including a very international mix of PhD students, postdocs, and guests. SCM cooperates with a large and growing number of academic method developers around the world and has increased its scope to non-DFT methods, including a recent and very fast GW implementation in ADF. SCM is a science-focused company which has been around for over 25 years. It is financially solid, free of debt, growing, and profitable. SCM is located in Amsterdam, the very lively, enjoyable and internationally oriented (with 178 different nationalities) capital of The Netherlands. Thanks to its high quality of living and dynamism, Amsterdam has been elected as “best city for Millennials to live”4th most dynamic European city and best European tech city to work in, and it consistently ranks high in Mercer’s annual Quality of Living surveys (11th best in the world, in 2019).


We especially invite women to apply. EU mobility rules apply. In principle, applicants can have any nationality and any current residence (although immigration rules apply, favoring EU applicants). Candidates who already have more than 4 years (full-time equivalent) of research experience after obtaining their MSc degree or who have already been awarded a PhD degree are not eligible (“Full-Time Equivalent Research Experience is measured from the date when a researcher obtained the degree which would formally entitle him/her to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited or seconded, irrespective of whether or not a doctorate is or was ever envisaged”).

Further information, applying

Detailed information on SCM and its software can be found at
Those interested in this position are encouraged to contact project partners for further information:

  • SCM, Dr. S.J.A. van Gisbergen, CEO:
  • Prof. L. Visscher: l dot visscher at vu dot nl

Job applications can only be sent by email to The application procedure will run until the position is filled. Applications should contain a CV, data to support that you are an excellent young scientist, a letter explaining the detailed motivation for applying, a list of publications, and last but not least a clear and complete summary of your programming and method development experience (as opposed to using standard existing software). References may be requested at a later stage.