Molecular Manipulation Lab

Open PhD position at Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany:

PhD project on molecular-scale engineering

In this high-profile, ERC-funded research project we work on the realization of molecular-scale machines and devices. To achieve this ambitious goal we combine low-temperature UHV scanning probe microscopy, with dedicated simulation and machine learning techniques. Working together in a group with experts from experimental and theoretical physics, as well as computer science, the PhD project plays a key role for the development of controlled mechanical manipulation of molecules.
The idea to freely control the atomic-scale structure of matter has intrigued scientists for many decades. There is, however, no precise method for the controlled manipulation of molecules beyond lateral rearrangement. The goal of this PhD project is to develop new experimental methods of molecular manipulation with the SPM and to use controlled molecular manipulation for the construction of single-molecule devices. The fundamental challenge addressed by this project is the precise identification of molecular conformations at any time during manipulation. The work will be conducted in close collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of scientists working for example in the field of molecular simulation or machine learning.
Further details about the research project are available from Dr. Christian Wagner (c.wagner [at]
Exemplary tasks
  • Integration of machine learning techniques and control algorithms (e.g. reinforcement learning, SVM) into the SPM experiment
  • Construction of supramolecular structures by SPM
  • Visualization of measured data using immersive 3D glasses (Oculus rift)
  • Controlled charge transport spectroscopy of molecular building blocks
The project is funded by a starting grant of the European Research Council (ERC) for the project “Controlled Mechanical Manipulation of Molecules CM3”, and carried out by the Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ). The FZJ is one of the largest German research centers. It offers excellent opportunities for research in an international environment. Within the Jülich-Aachen Research Alliance (JARA), founded under the auspices of the German Excellence Initiative, it is closely linked to the RWTH Aachen University. Salaries are competitive (TvöD + allowance depending on the candidate's profile), teaching load is low and dissertations are usually completed within three years. Forschungszentrum Jülich aims to employ more women in this area and therefore particularly welcomes applications from women. We also welcome applications from disabled persons.
Candidates with an MSc or equivalent degree in Physics, Chemistry or a related discipline, with an overall grade of at least "good", are strongly encouraged to apply. Advantageous are programming skills, experience in fields like scanning-probe microscopy and ultra-high vacuum.

For further information about the project contact Dr. Christian Wagner (c.wagner [at] Please send your application, including the relevant documents and stating your interests, preferably via e-mail (c.wagner [at]

Link: View the job offer on the FZJ page

Christian Wagner
Peter Grünberg Institut (PGI-3)
Forschungszentrum Jülich
52425 Jülich

October 25th, 2018

We have been granted 2 Mio core‑h on JURECA for our simulation work on molecular adsorption and manipulation.

September 6th, 2018

We are happy that MSc Michael Maiworm joins us till January to work on molecular control algorithms.

August 16th, 2018

Paper on fast SQDM controller online Read at IEEE..

August 1st, 2018

We welcome our new group member MSc Rustem Bolat.

June 27th, 2018

Single molecule finally stands on its own two feet! Read at Nature..

June 1st, 2018

We welcome our new group members Dr. Hadi Arefi and MSc Marvin Knol. Scientists..

May 18th, 2018

New article on the physics of molecular quantum dots online now. Get pdf.. View at PRL..

September 5th, 2017

ERC starting grant for controlled molecular manipulation. more..