PhD position in ab initio electronic transport simulations

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

The Computational Nanoelectronics Group ( at the Integrated Systems Laboratory ( of ETH Zurich is developing and applying advanced simulation tools to investigate the properties of nanoscale devices. For a research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), we are looking for one PhD student in ab initio electronic transport simulations.


Project background

Semiconductor microprocessors build the core of all electronic devices, from laptops, cell phones, or tablets to vehicles and automated systems. Besides the end of Moore’s scaling law, the development of future chips face other challenges such as the introduction of new functionalities to devices whose dimensions do not exceed few nanometers. For example, ultra-scaled transistors, the active components of all microprocessors, might soon be combined with photo-emitters, modulators, and receivers to enable optical communication within or between chips. Nanoscale thermoelectric generators and coolers could also come into play to either recycle part of the heat dissipated by the chips or to remove it from their active area. On the one hand, new materials will have to be integrated with silicon, the semiconductor of reference, to support these innovations. On the other hand, the atomic size of the resulting structures will give rise to strong electrical, thermal, and optical effects that intrinsically depend on each other. Altogether, this makes the conception of next-generation nano-devices extremely complex, thus calling for the emergence of novel design approaches.

Job description

In this PhD thesis, a novel ab initio quantum transport solver will be developed to address these issues. It will take advantage of the always increasing computational power to offer physical models of greater accuracy than the existing ones. The focus will be on electronic transport and the interplay of electrons with other carriers, phonons, and photons. All these effects will be captured at the quantum mechanical level and from first-principles. To be able to leverage the already available exascale computing resources, a dedicated parallel programming model called DaCe will be exploited. It allows to express computations separately from data movements and automatically generates hardware-specific codes from programs written in a high-level scripting language, Python in the present case. The main task of this PhD thesis will therefore be to implement the required physical modules in Python, validate them, and apply them to the simulation of nanoscale devices. This work will be performed in close collaboration with other PhD students and post-docs who will concentrate on different aspects of this SNSF project.

Your profile

You should have a Diploma or Master's degree in electrical engineering, physics, material science, computational chemistry or in a related discipline, excellent Python programming skills, a strong background in quantum transport theory, and interest in physics-based device modelling. Experience with density functional theory is a plus.

Your workplace

We offer

We offer exciting and challenging activity with a team of motivated physicists and electrical engineers and a salary according to the standard of ETH Zurich. Participation to international conferences and the collaboration with industry and academia is strongly encouraged and supported.

Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich

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Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application including:

  • a cover letter
  • CV
  • list of references
  • university grades
  • and a short description of your master/diploma thesis

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Questions regarding the position should be directed to Mathieu Maurice Luisier ( (no applications).

About ETH Zürich

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.