PostDoc: Principles and limits of computation in nano-optomechanical systems

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Computers consume energy to work – totaling as much as the airline industry, according to some estimates. Understanding how fundamental physical principles determine the energy cost of computing is therefore both an interesting scientific as well as a significant societal problem. While there are some theoretical results on the minimum energy cost of operations such as erasing a bit, we know very little about how the microscopic characteristics of the system (number of degrees of freedom, types of allowed interactions, symmetries) constrain the performance (error rate, speed, energy consumption) of a computer. In this project, you will experimentally explore these tradeoffs in a nano-optomechanical platform. Optomechanics allows us to engineer interactions between microscopic degrees of freedom (i.e., nanomechanical resonators) with surgical precision, introduce nonlinear couplings and break fundamental symmetries such as reciprocity and time-reversibility – while at the same time observing the system with exquisite resolution. We will take advantage of this to experimentally characterize the role of fundamental resources on computing accuracy.

We are looking for an experimentally-inclined postdoc interested in optomechanics and in the physics of computation, to lead a collaboration between the Photonic Forces and Hypersmart Matter groups at AMOLF, supervised by Ewold Verhagen and Marc Serra-Garcia. The postdoc will design networks of nanomechanical resonators that process information (logic gates, bit erasures, machine learning tasks), fabricate the structures in the state-of-the-art AMOLF cleanroom, and characterize their speed, accuracy and power consumption in a leading optomechanics lab. The open and collaborative work culture at AMOLF will be an opportunity for the postdoc to grow into an independent researcher in the growing field of the physics of computation.

About the group

This project is a collaboration between two groups: The Hypersmart Matter group (Marc Serra Garcia) studies information processing in nonlinear elastic structures, with the aim of exploring the fundamental limits of computing and developing zero-energy smart devices. The Photonic Forces group (Ewold Verhagen) studies light-matter interactions at the nanoscale, in particular the coupling between light and motion in optomechanical systems. We are fascinated by both fundamental physical principles describing these interactions as well as the functions they allow. The project involves the use and development of advanced optical measurement techniques, nanofabrication, and embedding of the results in a theoretical framework, with extensive support from the group leaders and AMOLF technical staff. Within the groups and the Information in Matter department, we have a strong focus on stimulating development of junior researchers in all professional aspects, as well as collaborations with other researchers at AMOLF and beyond. We strongly value an inclusive and diverse environment.



You need to meet the requirements for a doctors-degree and must have research experience in a non-Dutch academic environment.

You have a PhD in physics or a closely related field. Ideally, you have:
– A background in opto- or nanomechanics, (quantum) optics, metamaterials, RF/microwave engineering, or similar

– A demonstrated affinity for experiments

– An ability to work in a small team, and to supervise younger students

– Enthusiasm for exploring “boundaries between fields”

– Interest in physics of computation, thermodynamics, and fundamentals of wave physics

Terms of employment

The position is intended as full-time (40 hours / week, 12 months / year) appointment in the service of the Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes (NWO-I) for the duration of two years, with a salary in scale 10 (CAO-OI) and a range of employment benefits. AMOLF assists any new foreign Postdoc with housing and visa applications and compensates their transport costs and furnishing expenses.

Contact info

Dr. Marc Serra Garcia
Group leader (Hypersmart Matter)
Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100

Prof. dr. Ewold Verhagen
Group leader (Photonic Forces)
Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100

You can respond to this vacancy online via the button below.
Please send your:
–  Resume;
–  Motivation on why you want to join the group (max. 1 page).
It is important to us to know why you want to join our team. This means that we will only consider your application if it entails your motivation letter.

Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis and as soon as an excellent match is made, the position will be filled.

Online screening may be part of the selection.

AMOLF is highly committed to an inclusive and diverse work environment. Hence, we greatly encourage candidates from any personal background and perspective to apply.

Commercial activities in response to this ad are not appreciated.


PostDoc: Principles and limits of computation in nano-optomechanical systems
Science Park 104 Amsterdam, Niederlande
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AMOLF carries out fundamental physics with an open eye for applications. The researchers work closely with universities, institutes, and companies.

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