European Research Council

PhD Position in Photonics. multi-color lasers for mm-wave all-optical processing applications.

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    Vrije Universiteit Brussel
    MathematicsApplied mathematics
    PhysicsApplied physics
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    18/06/2021 23:00 - Europe/Brussels
    Belgium › Brussels
    H2020 / ERC


Multi-color lasers, i.e., lasers with the capability to emit simultaneously at multiple wavelengths, open exciting perspectives for a wide range of applications, from optical sensing to data-communication or mm-wave and THz all-optical processing. Combined with the outstanding and continuous progress of generic foundry platforms making Photonic Integrated Circuits (PIC) widely available, it is now possible to design multi-color lasers specifically tailored for various applications. The main bottleneck of this development is the difficulty to finely control multi-color lasers. In short, depending on the internal mechanism, these lasers can either be versatile but extremely sensitive, or robust but without any practical control parameter. Yet, we recently proposed a new technique based on phase-controlled optical feedback which showed great promises. We were able to induce a complete wavelength switch in a two-color laser with a suppression ratio up to 50 dB. Moreover, the feedback cavity can be monolithically integrated on the same chip as the laser, hence ensuring a low footprint of the complete system.

Now, in the frame of a Starting Grant from the European Research Council: ERC-StG-2020 project COLOR’UP (https://b-phot.org/research/european-research-council/color-up), we want to focus on the dynamics of multi-color lasers and investigate how they could be exploited for processing exploited for all-optical processing of mm-wave and THz signals. In this context, we are looking for an excellent PhD candidate in photonics (duration = 48 months) to join our team. The research work will therefore include:

  • Design and simulation of novel multi-color laser structures compatible with the constraints of the generic foundry platform
  • Testing, validation, and detailed characterization of the photonic ICs (PICs)
  • Development of new solutions to improve the current feedback-based control technique to achieve complete and precise control of multi-color lasers.
  • Investigations of the impact of feedback on the laser dynamics and mode competition.
  • Identification of processing capabilities and development of a demonstrator.

The candidate will join the Brussels Photonics (B-PHOT) research group of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in Belgium, www.b-phot.org. Chaired by Prof. H. Thienpont, the team composed of more than 45 internationally recognized researchers is widely known for its work in fundamental and applied photonics research covering the entire research cycle from modelling and fabrication, to characterization and Proof-Of-Concept. In the last 20 years, the group has built significant expertise in the field of semiconductor laser – including modelling, design and on-chip implementation of new laser structures – but also in nonlinear dynamics and chaos-based applications. The candidate will therefore have the opportunity to contribute to the field in a vivid and fruitful environment.

Starting date: September – October 2021.

For more information, please contact Prof. M. Virte (martin.virte@vub.be) or Dr. P. Marin-Palomo (pablo.marin-palomo@vub.be).

To apply, please send your detailed CV (including a copy of the Master diploma and a Transcript of records), letters of recommendation, any supporting documents demonstrating technical skills (theses or scientific papers), and an application letter to Prof. M. Virte (martin.virte@vub.be) by e-mail before June 15th, 2021. If no suitable candidate has been found after the deadline, the position will remain open until it is filled.

VUB is dedicated to promoting the role of women in science, and, therefore, explicitly invites women to apply.

If your application is selected based on the CV and accompanying documents, you will be invited for a teleconference interview and online tests.



PhD Thesis of Robert Pawlus (joint PhD between VUB and TU Darmstadt): https://tuprints.ulb.tu-darmstadt.de/11917/1/Dissertation_RPawlus.pdf

Pawlus et al., "dual-wavelength lasers on generic foundry platform", https://arxiv.org/abs/1911.03533

R Pawlus, R de Mey, S Breuer, M Virte, "Control of dual-wavelength laser using monolithically integrated phase-controlled optical feedback" - Semiconductor Lasers and Laser Dynamics IX, 2020

More Information


The work location will be the VUB Humanities, Science and Engineering campus, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium which is easily accessible by public transports, bike or car.

At VUB, your days will be spent in a dynamic, diverse and multilingual environment. Our main campus is set within green oases on the outskirts of the centre of the capital of Flanders, Belgium and Europe. This centre, with all its opportunities, is within your reach by public transport in under half an hour. As an employee of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, you will receive an attractive salary corresponding to one of the pay scales laid down by the government, depending on your experience and academic merits. Hospitalisation insurance and free use of public transport for travel to and from work are standard conditions of employment. If you would rather cycle to work, compensation is also available for that.

More information is available at www.vub.ac.be under the heading ‘future employees.

Selection process

The selection process will take place in two steps:

First, the file of each applicant will be carefully screened and reviewed. Well-suited candidates will be selected on this basis.

Second, selected candidates will be invited to a teleconference interview during which they will be asked a broad set of technical and non-technical questions.

Finally, all retained candidates will be ranked based on their academic records and their interview, and the candidate ranked 1st will be offered the position.

Additional comments

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) is a dynamic university with 4 campuses in and around Brussels, one of which is dedicated to photonics research. The university has 8 faculties that accomplish the three central missions of the university: education, research, and service to the community. The faculties cover a broad range of fields of knowledge including natural sciences, classics, life sciences, social sciences, humanities, and engineering. The university provides bachelor, master, and doctoral education to over 15,000 students, 21% of which are international. It also is a strongly research-oriented institute, which has led to its #182 ranking among universities worldwide. With more than 150 internationally recognised research teams, VUB performs high-level fundamental and applied research. Thanks to the creation of more than 20 spin-offs in various domains, VUB plays a prominent role in attracting and instigating new economic activity in and around the Brussels-Capital Region.

Teaching and research at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel are founded on the principle of unfettered inquiry to benefit the progress of mankind. This means rejecting dogmatic positions and guaranteeing the freedom to form opinions without interference; in this way the University aims to ensure the dispersal of the principle of unfettered inquiry throughout society.

The University is autonomous and democratically run. This means guaranteeing the exercise of the fundamental freedoms within the University, as well as the right of the University Community to participate in the decision-making process and scrutiny of University policy.


Offer Requirements

    ENGLISH: Excellent


Research profile:

  • Candidates should possess a master’s degree in Physics, Engineering, Applied Math or a related scientific field.
  • Knowledge about photonics, photonic integration, chaos theory, laser physics, nonlinear dynamics or signal processing is strongly preferred.
  • Good programming skills are required. Experience with Matlab, Scilab, R, Python or a similar language and environment is a strong plus.
  • Good knowledge of numerical techniques and advanced simulation methods is a strong plus.
  • Knowledge of photonic circuit simulation tools such as Lumerical FDTD and Interconnect or Photon Design OmniSim and PICWave is a plus.
  • Experience with experimental optical setup and equipment such as optical spectrum analysers, laser drivers or amplifiers is a plus.
  • The candidate is expected to be able to carry out the research activities independently and in a critical manner, whilst having excellent communication skills and a positive attitude towards collaboration.
  • Good time management skills are a must, along with the ability to meet tight deadlines and work efficiently under pressure.
  • Proficiency in both spoken and written English (typically CEFR level C1 or equivalent) is required. The candidate will have the opportunity to take evening English classes to improve his/her language skills if needed.
  • The candidates should be prepared to travel in Europe and potentially worldwide e.g. for participation in conferences or research stays at partner institutions.

Candidates that have not yet acquired their master’s degree can apply and participate in the selection procedure, but need to offer proof of registration in their Masters programme and need to have complied with all diploma requirements before starting their position at VUB.

The available PhD position has a normal duration of 4 years in Belgium.

The candidate is expected to endorse the educational vision of the university (full text available on the university website).

Female candidates are particularly encouraged to apply.

Map Information

Job Work Location Personal Assistance locations
Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2

EURAXESS offer ID: 626459


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