ESR5 (POLIMI, Milano)

Ultrafast coherent spectroscopy of natural light-harvesting systems

Supervisor Professor Giulio Cerullo
Politecnico di Milano

Early Stage Researcher within the collaborative research project MUSIQ in the frame of the EU Horizon2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Networks H2020-MSCA-ITN-2018.

  • Starting date: November 01 2019
  • Duration: 36 months
  • Full time (40 hours/week)
  • Salary:  Gross salary about 3000 € per month plus 600 € monthly relocation allowance and 500 € monthly family allowance (if applicable).
  • Closing day for receiving applications: 10/07/2019
  • Please apply to the job via the local advert:[ID]=8377&L=1

Job Description

The successful candidates will be expected to conduct research under the guidance of Prof. Giulio Cerullo with the aim of obtaining a PhD in Physics. 

Objectives: To gain insight into the mechanisms of photosynthesis, by investigating the presence of static and dynamical coherences in natural-light-harvesting (LH) complexes and understanding their biological function. The researcher will use an advanced ultrafast optical spectroscopy technique, known as two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy (2DES), to study prototypical wild-type LH proteins from higher plants and mosses with different biological role, either excitation energy transfer (EET) or excitation energy quenching (EEQ) for photoprotection. The goal of the study is to understand whether coherence is a property of conservative (responsible for EET) versus dissipative (responsible for EEQ) biological structures. Furthermore, the researcher will perform 2DES of recombinant LH proteins, where specific chromophores involved in the EET process are removed by mutating the chromophore binding amino acid residues to non-binding ones. This will allow us to establish the role of individual chromophores in the coherence properties of LH proteins. This interdisciplinary research will be carried out in collaboration with leading groups of biochemists.

Our department offers an outstanding and dynamic environment for PhD candidates, with multiple seminars, working groups, colloquia, and a doctoral school which also includes access to multiple training opportunities, including some not only focussed on physics.

The research activity iss performed within the framework of MUSIQ, an innovative ETN with the unique vision of developing the next-generation optical microscopy exploiting quantum coherent nonlinear phenomena. Through 15 ESR research projects, MUSIQ will establish an intersectoral training and research programme at the physics/chemistry/life science interface with partners from 9 European countries. MUSIQ ESRs will enroll on PhD degree programmes and be employed for 36 months in a beneficiary organisation. The consortium brings together a unique team of world-leading academic groups and industry, at the forefront of optical microscopy technology developments merged with fundamental understanding of ultrafast coherent light-matter interaction phenomena, development of quantitative image analysis tools, and biomedical/pharmaceutical real-world applications. MUSIQ aims at creating the next generation of skilled well-connected scientists that will pioneer the ‘quantum microscopes of tomorrow’.

OtherSpecific to MUSIQ, in addition to their individual scientific projects, all ESRs will benefit from further continuing education through a dedicated training program in the various fields of expertise of the consortium partners, which includes secondments, a variety of training modules, transferable skills courses and active participation in workshops, conferences and outreach activities.

Planned secondment(s): Venteon (Binhammer), 2 months to be trained on their ultrafast laser sources; UNIMORE (Molinari), 1month to learn how to model 2DES spectroscopy. ICFO (van Hulst), 2 months to study coherent effects in single photosynthetic complexes with fluorescence readout; Cardiff (Langbein and Borri), 1 month to compare molecular vibrations studied with label-free coherent Raman scattering.

As part of the position, the successful candidate will be enrolled as a student for a PhD at the Politecnico di Milano. For any additional information, please contact Prof. Giulio Cerullo at: [email protected]

Conditions of eligibility of researchers

Essential Criteria

  • Master’s Degree (or equivalent) in physics or related disciplines. The degree must be obtained before the beginning of the contract but you can apply before.
  • Good command of written and spoken English (certificate required)
  • Expertise in atomic, molecular, and/or solid state physics, and optics.
  • Knowledge of research methods and techniques within specialist field.
  • Proven ability to analyse complex information and summaries appropriately.
  • Proven communication skills, including presentation to various audiences.
  • Excellent organisational and team-working skills.
  • Proven ability to demonstrate creativity, innovation and accuracy within work.
  • Experience in ultrafast Science and experimental Physics is preferential.


  • Letter of motivation, explaining the reasons for applying to Milan
  • Full CV
  • Transcript of academic records and copies of diploma
  • Names of at least two references who are willing to write a letter of recommendation on the candidate’s behalf (they may be contacted by us)
  • Any other relevant documents

Additional requirements:

Must at the date of recruitment, be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. ‘Date of Recruitment’ means the first day of the employment of the researcher (i.e. contract starting date). ‘Full-Time Equivalent Research Experience’ is measured from the date when the researcher obtained the degree entitling him/her to embark on a doctoral degree programme.

Must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Luxembourg for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention are not taken into account.

Further Information

The applications will be reviewed as soon as received. The call will be open until 10 July 2019.


As well as applying to the Politecnico di Milano, please send your CV with a Cover Letter to the Consortium Coordinator email: [email protected]. In the Cover Letter please indicate for which project you are applying and provide a brief motivation as to why you wish to become an ESR within MUSIQ. Please be aware that your CV may be shared with the named beneficiaries within the consortium, as part of the application review process, to ensure an open, transparent and merit based recruitment. Please see the full MUSIQ Data Privacy Notice.