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17-2020-IMT PhD Position on Structured light for precise control over crystallization of organic molecules

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) – The Research University in the Helmholtz Association creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is our goal to make significant contributions to mastering the global challenges of mankind in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9300 employees of KIT cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in research, academic education, and innovation.

Organizational unit

Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT)

Job description

We are seeking applications from candidates for a 3 year PhD studentship in the area of light-assisted crystallization of proteins, to be co-supervised by Prof. Jan Korvink and visiting Humboldt Fellow Andrew Forbes, together with IMT group leaders Dr. Neil MacKinnon and Dr. Ian Howard.

Recently it has been shown that transitions from disorder to order of solvated molecules can be driven by coherent light. By localizing the metastable zone at the edge of a focal spot, control over the organic crystallization process is enabled, removing the strong dependence on super-saturation for the nucleation of macro-molecular crystals, see Suzuki et al 2018, Control of Organic Crystal Shape by Femtosecond Laser Ablation, Crystal Growth & Design 18 (9) 4807-5712.

In the current project we want to build upon these initial discoveries and develop greater control over this light-induced crystallization process through the use of structured light, i.e., light tailored in 3D and in all its degrees of freedom. Through these developments, our goal is to achieve unprecedented control over the creation of crystals of arbitrary shape. The vision is to develop a light-induced crystallization apparatus to effectively "3D print" functional organic crystals on the microscale, using structured light to structure matter. Ultimately, such an ability to design and produce arbitrarily micro-structured functional organic crystals would provide a much-desired bridging technology between micro electro-mechanical systems and the biological world. Applications would include, but are not limited to, medical sensing and therapeutics. The successful candidate will work at the Institute of Microstructure Technology, with its excellent micro and nano structuring infrastructure, will be admitted to the Karlsruhe School of Optics and Photonics, and will be registered in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering.

Starting date


Personal qualification

  • M.Sc. Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Physics, or equivalent
  • Enthusiastic to work in a multi-disciplinary environment
  • Experience in the following is required: work in optical laboratory, programming (e.g. Python, LabView, Matlab), ultra-fast lasers, optics
  • Skills / experience in the following would be an advantage: chemistry, spectroscopy, light-shaping / light modulation

Contract duration

limited to 3 years

Application up to


Contact person in line-management

For further information, please contact Dr. Neil MacKinnon, e-mail

If qualified, severely disabled persons will be preferred.

Please apply online using the button below for this vacancy number 17-2020.

Personnel Support is provided by

Ms Gätcke
Telefon: +49 721 608-25010,

Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1, 76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany