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PhD position: Surface chemistry of colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

This position is open in the Functional Inorganic Materials Group (KovalenkoLab, ETH Zurich). The research activities in FIMG are focused on challenges related to the chemistry, physics, and applications of inorganic materials ranging from nanostructures to powders, thin films, and single crystals. Central to our efforts is the synthesis of inorganic materials and their integration or self-assembly into multifunctional solid-state structures. Synthetic work and rigorous materials characterization are the cornerstones of our research.

Job description

The surface of colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals (quantum dots) will be functionalized with small conductive ligands. Hot-injection techniques will be used to synthesize colloidal nanocrystals (PbS, HgTe, and novel compositions). Central to the project will be the development of ligand exchange techniques for various inorganic and small organic ligands (e.g., halides and chalcogenides) and characterization of the surface chemistry of colloidal nanocrystals. The developed nanocrystals will be employed in various optoelectronic devices (photodetectors, thermoelectrics devices, etc.). One goal is to produce densely-packed solids of electronically-coupled nanocrystals with high photoconductivity and low density of trap states. Another part of the project will include the optimization of interfaces in the final photodetector.

The research activities will involve:

  • synthesis of various colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals (quantum dots)
  • ligand exchange
  • characterization of the surface chemistry
  • integration of colloidal nanocrystals into devices
  • optoelectronic characterization of nanocrystalline solids

The start date is upon agreement.

Your profile

  • Recently obtained master degree in chemistry with outstanding grades
  • Excellent knowledge of inorganic chemistry and strong experimental background in chemistry
  • Experience with colloidal synthesis and/or surface chemistry of colloidal nanocrystals will be beneficial
  • A keen interest in bridging chemistry and physics

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.
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We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • Motivation letter
  • CV
  • 2-3 names of referees and their email addresses that can be contacted for reference letters (recommendation letters also can be accepted)
  • Academic transcripts of B.Sc. and M.Sc. educations

Applications should be either submitted through our online portal or sent to Dr. Dmitry Dirin ( and Prof. Maksym Kovalenko (

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

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