Job opening EU postdoc – Theoretical Physics – method/software development TDDFT

Job opening: Postdoc (Marie Curie FP7) in Theoretical Physics/Chemistry TDDFT method development – optical properties in 2D materials

Two-year postdoc project – Job summary

SCM, a scientific software company located in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, developing software packages in the area of computational quantum chemistry and materials science, is participating in a European Union Multi-Partner-ITN project called MoWSeS, running from 1 March 2013 until 1 March 2017. This Marie Curie FP7 scheme provides generous funding for a two-year Experienced Researcher (young postdoc) with good salary and travel/mobility allowances. We’re looking for an outstanding postdoc at the beginning of his/her career. 

The successful candidate will be involved in method development to further improve the algorithms in the core compute engines in  BANDADFDFTB. The goal is to extend the capabilities in the area of optical properties in two-dimensional materials, namely transition metal dichalcogenides. 

SCM is a spin-off of the VU University Amsterdam and rents its office space inside the Theoretical Chemistry corridor. 

SCM maintains and develops several software packages used by computational (quantum) chemists, physicists and materials scientists in academia and industry. The ADF and BAND molecular and periodic DFT programs are currently the most popular among these packages and used by thousands of scientists worldwide. In the above-mentioned EU projects, the much faster DFTB (Density Functional based Tight Binding) method is being developed into a powerful method capable of treating nanoscale systems with thousands of atoms. 

Day-to-day guidance in Amsterdam will be performed by the experienced scientific staff at SCM consisting of senior PhDs focusing on software / method development, and with typically more than 10 years experience in ADF / BAND software development, including TDDFT expertise for 20 years. 

Prof. Thomas Heine’s group is one of the academic partners in this and other joint EU projects with SCM (e.g. PROPAGATE). Collaboration with the Heine group, included a planned 3-month secondment focused on simulations using the newly developed software, is implied in the position. The start date can be soon but should ideally not be much later than 1 March/April/May, 2015. Salary conditions, travel/ mobility allowances, and benefits will follow the attractive EU amounts for Experienced Researchers (ERs) in program FP7-PEOPLE-2012-ITN, which goes beyond the already above-average offers at Dutch universities. 

Job requirements


  • The key point: proven algorithm and software development skills, combined with a solid knowledge of electronic structure methods in theoretical solid-state physics (or chemistry)
  • Being able to quickly grasp complex mathematical ideas in scientific publications, improve upon them, and convert them into clean and efficient source code
  • PhD degree in relevant field (e.g. theoretical physics or theoretical quantum chemistry) OR at least four years full-time research experience after MSc degree. 
  • Maximum of five full-time years research experience after MSc degree (e.g. 4 years during PhD studies and at most 1 year full-time research after PhD degree, or 3 years during PhD study followed by a maximum of 2 years full-time research experience).
  • Experience in electronic structure theory (DFT or more approximate faster methods such as TDDFTB)
  • Good written and verbal communication skills in the English language.
  • Willingness to relocate temporarily from Amsterdam to Germany for a period of 3 months.

Desirable additional knowledge and experience:

  • Acquaintance with Time-Dependent DFT
  • 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, scripting languages, 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 employment contract will consist of a (maximum) 2-year period at SCM with end date 28 February 2017 and include a 3-month secondment to the Heine group. The position is available immediately but there is (some) flexibility concerning the starting date. The start date should not be much later than 1 March/April/May 2015. Salary and secondary benefits (including pension fund) will follow EU rules for salaries of Experienced Researchers. Tax benefits (parts of salary and/or allowances paid tax-free) may be applicable in the Netherlands (depending on circumstances) for a successful candidate from abroad. This is a full-time position in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (including 3 months stay in Bremen, Germany). Supergross monthly living allowance: 58,500 Euro / year to be multiplied by country correction factor of 1.041 for The Netherlands. Additional monthly mobility allowance: 700 Euro / month (single) or 1,000 Euro / month (married candidates) corrected with the same country correction factor. In addition, the EU provides funding for training and transfer of knowledge expenses to the institutes. 

Project details

The project is part of the Initial Training Network (“Nanoelectronics based on two-dimensional dichalcogenides” MoWSeS) led by Prof. Kis (EPFL). From the MoWSeS abstract: “The semiconductor industry rapidly approaches the performance limits of silicon-based CMOS technology. This proposal aims to pave the way to electronic circuits based on twodimensional transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), newly emerging semiconducting analogues of graphene.” This postdoc project will focus on method and software development of optical properties for these two-dimensional materials. Advanced Time-Dependent (current) DFT(B) methods will be further developed in the ADF/BAND/DFTB software suite. 

About SCM and the Theoretical Chemistry group at VU University Amsterdam 

Scientific Computing & Modelling NV, SCM, is a (now independent) spin-off company of the VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands employing approximately 15 people. SCM develops, maintains, and markets the Amsterdam Density Functional (ADF) package, consisting of the molecular ADF program, the periodic structure 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. The working atmosphere at SCM is that of an informal small team of PhDs and PhD students doing intellectually challenging work. SCM shares office space and closely interacts with the well-known Theoretical Chemistry (TC) group led by professors Bickelhaupt and Visscher and emeritus professor Baerends and with the group of prof. Ziegler at Calgary, Canada. The TC group consists of about 25 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 is now increasing its scope to non-DFT methods, though the primary focus stays on electronic structure methods. SCM is a science-focused company which has been around for 15 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, Amsterdam was recently elected as overall winner for “most attractive city to live in Europe”, beating Paris and Berlin.

About Prof. Heine’s group (Theoretical Physics and Computational Materials Science)

The Heine group (Theoretical Physics / Computational Materials Science) carries out research on computational nanotechnology, with concentration on environmental aspects such as hydrogen storage, proton conductance, biofuel production, and water splitting, as well as nanoelectromechanics of carbon and inorganic nanostructures. Target materials of these applications are framework compounds (i.e. Metal-Organic Frameworks), transition metal dichalcogenide nanotubes and nanolayers, and nanoscopic metal oxides. 7 experienced researchers (postdoctoral fellows or junior group leaders) and 8 PhD students are presently working in the group. The group (as well as SCM) has access to excellent supercomputer facilities. 


We especially invite women to apply. EU mobility rules apply. For this position in Amsterdam, the selected candidate may not have lived in The Netherlands for more than 12 months in the three years preceding the recruitment date. In principle, applicants can have any nationality, and any current residence (although immigration rules apply, favoring EU applicants). Candidates who already have more than 5 years (full-time equivalent) of research experience after obtaining their MSc degree are not eligible according to the EU rules for this project. “Experienced researchers must, at the time of recruitment (i) be in possession of a doctoral degree, independently of the time taken to acquire it, or (ii) have at least four years of full-time equivalent research experience, including the period of research training, after obtaining the degree which formally allowed them to embark on a doctorate in the country in which the degree/diploma was obtained or in the host country (irrespective of whether or not a doctorate was envisaged). The research experience of an experienced researcher recruited for initial training may not exceed 5 years at the time of the appointment.”

Further information, applying

Detailed information on SCM and ADF can be found at SCM’s website. Those interested in this position are encouraged to contact SCM at jobs at scm dot com, tel: +31-20-5987626) for further information. Job applications can be sent by E-mail to the same address until January 31, 2015, but preferably sooner. 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.