Postdoc Sub-mm Instrument Scientist (1.0 FTE)


Kapteyn Astronomical Institute


Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, enjoys an excellent international reputation as a dynamic and innovative institution of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Flexible study programmes and academic career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 32,000 students and researchers alike to develop their own individual talents. As one of the best research institutions in Europe, we joined our forces with other top universities and networks worldwide to become a truly global center of knowledge, situated in the vibrant city of Groningen in the north of The Netherlands.

The Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA) is the alliance between the astronomy departments of the universities of Amsterdam (UvA), Groningen (RUG), Leiden (UL) and Nijmegen (RU). NOVA conducts astronomical research at the highest international level and develops state-of-the-art astronomical instrumentation in the sub-mm and optical-infrared domains. In its quest to answer some of the most fundamental questions about the universe, NOVA collaborates extensively with research institutes within the Netherlands (SRON and ASTRON) and abroad.

The expertise group Sub-mm Instrumentation of NOVA, is located at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute of the University of Groningen. The group develops cutting-edge astronomical instrumentation in the far infrared and Sub-millimeter range. The group has extensive experience in the development and construction of cryogenic instruments for major sub-mm observatories such as the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) and the Event Horizon Telescope. The group primarily focusses on the development of high-sensitivity heterodyne technologies using superconductor-insulator-superconductor (SIS) tunnel junctions as mixers for high resolution spectroscopy, although other promising (heterodyne or direct) detector techniques in the broad frequency range around 1 THz, or supporting technologies, may be explored as well. The work of the group is performed in the framework of the NOVA instrumentation R&D effort, and often takes place in large or small international collaborations.

Job description

The candidate will work in a university team of instrument scientists, engineers and lab technicians. Apart from the sub-mm group itself, there are extensive technological, operational and infrastructural connections with SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, with which the group is co-located. The candidate will report to the Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-PI of the NOVA Sub-mm Instrumentation Group.

In addition to pure R&D work, the candidate is expected to assist in the role of systems engineer for actual production projects, in particular the one recently acquired by the group for realizing ALMA Band 2. This work includes, as part of the team effort, the establishment of performance and interface specifications, performance budgets (RF electrical, thermal, etc.), operational procedures and (technical) project documentation, as well as participating in the preliminary and critical design reviews associated with these kinds of projects.

The candidate will:

• participate in the development of sub-mm instrumentation from proof of concept to operational instruments
• initiate new sub-mm detector technology
• perform hands-on experiments in the laboratory
• analyse test results
• present results in scientific conferences and journals
• act as sub-mm system engineer in telescope hardware projects
• write or supervise writing of technical documents for instrumentation projects.


You meet as many as possible of the following qualifications/qualities:

• a PhD degree in applied physics or a comparable discipline
• experience with the design, testing and calibration of heterodyne detectors or instruments
• experience with (superconducting) device physics
• experience with quasi-, physical or Gaussian optics
• experience with low-noise electronics in the GHz range
• experience with cryogenic and vacuum technology
• experience with analysis of instrumentation test data
• good technical communication skills, both orally and in writing
• an affinity with physics-based engineering
• a drive to understand the ins and outs of high-end astronomical instrumentation, from the fundamental physics up to actual deployment at an observatory
• very good communication skills, so as to function as an excellent team player in this collaborative effort
• enthusiasm and initiative to perform creative research in an interdisciplinary setting.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 12 months.

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary dependent on qualifications and work experience of € 3,353 maximum of € 4,402 gross per month (salary scale 10) for a full-time position
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and an 8.3% year-end bonus
• excellent secondary benefits, including a pension scheme and flexible employment conditions, options for (additional) personal development, and parental leave
• a full-time job for one year, further extension up to three years possible.

Job Application

Do you want to become a member of our team? Please send your application to us, by submitting the following documents:

• motivation letter
• curriculum vitae
• name and (email) address of two professional references
• vacancy number of this position.

You can submit your application until 15 October 11:59pm / before 16 October 2020 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Joost Adema

Ronald Hesper

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 220291

Digital application form