Young Graduate Trainee in Advanced Concepts in Condensed Matter Physics, European Space Agency

Traineeship Opportunity for “Young Graduate Trainees”
Advanced Concepts in Condensed Matter Physics

Overview of the Division’s mission
The Future Preparation and Strategic Studies Office ensures the overall coordination, coherence and performance of programme and corporate studies in support of the preparation of the Agency’s future activities, in line with its long-term strategic objectives and priorities, as well as coordinate strategy development of trans-Directorate initiatives. In particular, this includes the General Studies Programme (GSP, implementing studies for the preparation of new missions, and the Advanced Concepts Team (ACT,, tasked to monitor, perform and foster research on advanced space systems, innovative concepts and working methods.

Within the European Space Agency, the ACT is engaging in collaborative research relations with university institutes and research centres, focusing on advanced research topics of potential strategic interest to the space sector and in experimenting with new forms of teamwork. In order to achieve this goal a multidisciplinary research environment is provided, in which young scientific and engineering post-doctoral and post-graduate researchers carry out work on emerging technologies and innovative concepts. Candidates are strongly encouraged to visit the website of the team to obtain more information about the team in preparation of their application and interview.

Overview of the field of activity proposed
Condensed Matter Theory (CMT) deals with the properties of matter in condensed phases such as in liquids, plasmas and solids. It draws upon quantum, electromagnetic, thermal and statistical physics extensively and overlaps with material science, nanotechnology, and chemistry; in a sense it is mesoscopic physics, as opposed to micro- or macroscopic, and therefore benefits both from theoretical progress on the small scale and applications on the large scale. Due to this breadth and applicability CMT has grown into the most active branch of contemporary physics.
The successful candidate will perform research in the field of Condensed Matter Theory and especially its applications to space systems. A specific aim of this project lies in exploring aspects of the connection between high energy and gravitational physics (AdS/CMT) that has proven promising as a framework for understanding the properties of condensed matter systems. Depending on the particular background and interests of the candidate, the focus can evolve to different projects in CMT.

For example some research directions include:
– Applications of nanostructured materials to space systems
– Quantum emulation of gravitational physics (analogue gravity)

The successful candidate will be a member of the Advanced Concepts Team ( and is therefore expected to contribute to the development and the assessment of new concepts and technologies for space applications in close interaction with ACT researchers who work on a broad range of disciplines including, informatics, artificial intelligence, climate modelling, energy systems, fundamental physics, biomimetics, computational management science and mission analysis. Based on her/his detailed background and interests and the opportunities and needs of the team, the successful candidate will be involved in a number of other ACT initiatives (including studies conducted via the Ariadna scheme, and participate in reporting and communicating results of the team (internally and externally).

Educational and other requirements
Applicants should have just completed, or be in their final year of a university course at Masters level in a technical or scientific discipline, specifically in Physics or related fields. Applicants should have a good theoretical background and strong interest in condensed matter, quantum physics. Desirable would be candidate to have theoretical background in general relativity.

Applicants should show a genuine interest in applied academic research, together with sound analytical skills, avid curiosity and a natural aptitude to self-motivation and teamwork. Applicants should have good interpersonal and communication skills and should be able to work in a multi-cultural environment, both independently and as part of a team. Applicants must be fluent in English and/or French, the working languages of the Agency. A good proficiency in English is required.

How can I apply?
Please fill in the online application form.
Please note that only one application may be submitted for the YGT Scheme.

The YGT Scheme is open to recently qualified young men and women who are nationals of one of the following states:
Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK, or Canada as a Cooperating State, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia as European Cooperating States (ECS).

Research Fellow in Fundamental Physics in the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency’s Advanced Concepts Team (ACT) is looking for highly motivated young researchers in the area of fundamental physics, with good analytical and communicational skills and an excellent aptitude for teamwork.

The Team

The Advanced Concepts Team (ACT) is a group of research fellows (post-docs) and young graduates who originate from a broad variety of academic fields and aim at an academic career. The team’s task is to monitor, perform and foster research on advanced space systems, innovative concepts and working methods. It interacts externally almost exclusively with academia and operates as a truly interdisciplinary team bound to high scientific standards. Via its research, the team acts as a cross-departmental pathfinder to explore novel, potentially promising areas for ESA and the space sector, ranging from applied to basic fundamental topics. The team is in constant evolution and attempts to lead and embrace changes and new trends. Each member is therefore encouraged and expected to contribute and suggest changes.

Internally, the Advanced Concepts Team acts as the technical think-tank within the Director General’s Policy Office. Thus, an important task of the team is to communicate scientific trends and results, as input to the strategic planning of the Agency. The team has been active in the field of fundamental physics since several years and interested candidates are invited to get familiar with these projects (, while being encouraged to expand the domain to new interesting fields not yet covered.

Duties and Tasks

Successful candidates will perform research in theoretical physics and will in particular carry out the following tasks:

• Assess and investigate concepts and effects, either current of foreseen, derived from novel theoretical or experimental discoveries in physics for their potential application and use in space systems.
• Propose and perform high-level research in the field of physics together with universities of ESA member states (in particular through the Ariadna programme (
• Lead and assist interdisciplinary projects with other ACT Research Fellows in topics where the above-mentioned areas of physics play an important role.
• Participate, with the rest of the team, in the assessment of proposed space system concepts – these not being restricted only to the area of fundamental / theoretical physics – and propose new concepts and assessment studies.
• Perform or participate in small studies on subjects of strategic interest to provide inhouse expertise to ESA’s Director General’s Policy Office and its General Studies Programme.
• Follow and monitor the progress of research in areas of physics of interest to the team in order to derive and report strategic trends.
• Critically assess ideas and concepts for space systems relying on methods or phenomena of the area of fundamental physics that are brought to the attention of the ACT.

Areas of research are partly chosen by the successful candidate based on his/her own expert judgements and insight into trends and developments in fundamental physics, partly chosen by the team as to follow strategic directions of the Agency. Based on past and current assessments, ACT areas of research in fundamental physics include condensed matter physics, quantum physics and applications of Bose-Einstein condensates and gravitation, but candidates are encouraged to expand these.


The candidate should hold a degree in Physics, Mathematics or Aerospace Engineering. He or she should also have completed (or be about to complete) a PhD in Physics (with the subject of the thesis being relevant to the description of the tasks outlined above) and aim at an academic/research career.

The candidate is expected to bring to the team functioning links to universities and research institutes. The candidate should demonstrate an interest in space science and / or technology as well as the ability and interest to get actively involved in prospective interdisciplinary research.

Successful candidates are expected to show an aptitude to contextualise specialised areas of research and to quickly assess their potential with respect to other domains and applications. An avid, natural curiosity and a passion for new subjects and research areas are essential. As member of an interdisciplinary, multicultural team of peers, the candidate should have a natural aptitude to teamwork, while being able to set-up, follow, monitor and be responsible for his/her own personal research plans and directions. Good methodological and organisation skills are therefore a valuable asset.


Information on the ESA Research Fellowship Programme and the application form are available at: Applicants should send their CV, a covering letter stating their research interests and the filled-out RF application form to: act[At] as well as temp.htr[At] (if not possible by email, the four reference letters can also be sent via normal mail to: ESTEC HR Division, RES-HTR, ESA/ESTEC; Keplerlaan 1, PO Box 299, 2200AG Noordwijk ZH, The Netherlands).

The general eligibility criteria of the ESA Research (Internal) Fellowship Programme apply.

All applications will be considered until the available post is filled. Application deadline for this round of interviews: no later than May 31, 2010.

For more information please visit: ESA:, the Advanced Concepts Team: or send us an email to: act[AT]