Empa - the place where innovation starts

Empa is the research institute for materials science and technology of the ETH Domain and conducts cutting-edge research for the benefit of industry and the well-being of society.

The Laboratory for Transport at Nanoscale Interfaces has an opening for a

PhD student in terahertz spectroscopy and imaging of key properties of wood

The project involves three key aspects in terahertz (THz) technology for the understanding and characterization of wood properties:


(i)   THz radiation is very sensitive to humidity and water. Due to the different spectral properties of water compared to those of the cell wall polymers it allows for a spatially and temporally resolved measurement of water content and water diffusion in wood.

(ii)  As the anisotropic optical properties of wood and cellulose strongly correlate with the cellulose microfibril orientation, THz radiation is an excellent medium for probing the spatial microstructure of wood relevant to mechanical properties.

(iii) Internal stress in a material may result in anisotropic optical properties. We presume that we can correlate changes in optical anisotropy at THz wavelengths with stress changes in wood.


To address these aspects, the PhD student will develop and carry out new THz spectroscopic experiments including automation (LabView) as well as data evaluation (Matlab) and contribute to modeling optical properties of the multi scale wood structure.

We are looking for a highly motivated PhD student with a background inphysics, optics, wood science or a related discipline, with a strong interest to work in an interdisciplinary research environment. Programming skills in Matlab and/or Labview are highly advantageous. Excellent communication skills and fluency in English (both written and oral) are mandatory, basic oral expression skills in German are desirable.


The research is performed at the Laboratory forTransport at Nanoscale Interfacesin collaboration with the Laboratory for Cellulose & Wood Materialsat Empa and the Wood Materials Science LaboratoryatETH Zürich. The position is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Earliest possible starting date is November 1, 2019.


Empa offers a highly stimulating research environment with state-of-the-art facilities and a broad interdisciplinary surrounding.

For further information about the position please contact Dr. Peter Zolliker peter.zolliker@empa.ch or Dr. Markus Rüggeberg markus.rueggeberg@empa.ch and visit our websites www.empa.ch/web/s405 and Empa-Video

We look forward to receiving your online application including a letter of motivation, CV, diplomas with transcripts and contact details of two referees. Please upload the requested documents through our webpage. Applications via email will not be considered.

Empa, David Heusser, Human Resources, Ueberlandstrasse 129, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland.