Postdoctoral Research at the CNST NanoLab
The CNST has a variety of mechanisms for participating in postdoctoral research in one of our NanoLab research areas under the mentorship of a CNST Project Leader. CNST postdoctoral researchers must be able to interact with multiple disciplines in a highly-collaborative environment, and be capable of presenting their research results effectively to a variety of audiences. Scientists and engineers interested in postdoctoral research are encouraged to contact CNST Project Leaders at any time in the areas of interest for additional information, even if a relevant near-term opportunity is not listed below.
The CNST anticipates there will be opportunities in the immediate future to conduct postdoctoral research on the following topics:
- Nanoparticle Tracking: The CNST is developing innovative measurement methods to track the motion of nanoparticles as probes of microelectromechanical, microfluidic, and nanofluidic systems. This multidiscplinary effort requires expertise in optical microscopy and image analysis. Experience with fluorescence spectroscopy and instrumentation engineering is a strong plus, as is a background in the physical sciences or engineering.
- Nanomagnet Dynamics: The CNST is developing facilities for microwave and millimeter wave measurements of magnetic properties in magnetic structures and nanodevices, including interactions with spin-polarized currents. The emphasis in this effort is on providing characterization tools for magnetism-based future electronics. The effort requires a strong background in magnetism. Experience with microwave measurements, lithography, thin-film deposition, scanned-probe measurements or micromagnetics is a strong plus.
- Nanomagnetism: The CNST is developing measurement techniques to investigate the novel properties of technologically relevant nanoscale magnetic structures and devices. Current projects involve imaging magnetic nanostructures in new materials, including multiferroics and chiral magnets, and in new devices, including patterned magnetic logic, magnetic memories, and spintronics. This effort requires experience with some combination of sample preparation (e.g. electron beam and optical lithography or magnetic thin film and multilayer growth) and sample characterization (e.g. surface analysis, scanning electron microscopy, Lorentz transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy with polarization analysis, magnetic force microscopy, magneto-optic Kerr effect, and spin polarized scanning tunneling microscopy).
- Combining Infrared Spectroscopy with Atomic Force Microscopy: The CNST is developing a multifunctional instrument capable of mapping topological, chemical (infrared), thermal, and mechanical properties, all with spatial resolution of 50 nm to 100 nm – many times smaller than the diffraction limit of infrared (IR) light (2 µm to 20 µm). This multidisciplinary effort requires expertise in nanofabrication techniques and scanning probe microscopy. Experience in instrument development and customization is a strong plus. A combination of expertise working with either IR or Raman spectroscopy and with plasmonic, photonic or nanostructured materials is desirable.
- Nanofluidic Devices: The CNST is developing novel nanofluidic devices to characterize the properties of nanoparticles. This multidisciplinary effort requires expertise in lithographic nanofabrication and nanofluidic experimentation. Experience with electrokinetic analysis is a strong plus, as is a background in the physical sciences and engineering.
- Nanotribology: Measurements of friction, adhesion, and wear at the nanoscale are of fundamental importance for micro- and nanomechanical devices and future nanomanufacturing systems. The CNST is developing measurement technologies for pursuing atomic-level studies of friction on technologically relevant materials and structures as a function of their mechanical and adhesive properties. This effort requires expertise in atomic force microscopy or a related technique, and a background in physics/applied physics, physical chemistry, materials science or a related field. Additional experience with Raman spectroscopy is a plus. Projects focus on nanoscale friction measurements using probe-based techniques, with the potential for contributing to instrumentation development and construction.
- Focused ion beam sources based on laser-cooled atoms: Focused ion beams are one of the most important tools for nanoscale fabrication and characterization. The CNST is developing new sources of ions that have the requisite high brightness and low emittance needed to create nanoscale probes. Extensive use is made of laser cooling techniques such as magneto-optical trapping and optical molasses to cool and trap neutral atoms to extremely low temperatures. Upon ionization, these cold atoms are formed into very bright, highly collimated ion beams that are ideally suited for microscopy applications. This work requires experience with laser cooling techniques and charged particle optics, as well as an interest in cross-disciplinary research in atomic physics and condensed matter physics/materials science.
- Micro- and nanomechanics: The CNST is designing and fabricating MEMS and NEMS sensors and probes enabled by cavity optomechanics that operate near their quantum limit for use in experiments with novel nanoscale metrology applications. This multi-disciplinary effort requires experience with some combination of microfabrication, micro- or nanomechanical sensing and actuating, scanning probe microscopy, feedback control, fiber optic measurement, photonics, and nanophotonics finite element modeling. A broad physics background, particularly in optics and quantum mechanics is a strong plus.
- Multifunctional nanoprobes: The CNST is developing new modalities of nanoscale sensing, imaging, and manipulation for nanomanufacturing, including nanoprobes and devices combining mechanical motion and force sensing with photonic and plasmonic functionality. This multidisciplinary effort requires experience with some combination of microfabrication, plasmonics, photonics, optical microscopy, optical tweezers, scanning probe microscopy (i.e. NSOM and AFM), and finite element modeling. A solid background in physics and optics is a strong plus.
- Nanocomposite Characterization: As part of a collaborative NIST-wide program involving structural characterization, modeling and high-throughput microwave measurement the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology is developing new methods for imaging the nanoscale structure in carbon-based nanocomposites and anticipates that there will be postdoctoral research opportunities in the following areas:
- Nanocomposite Single-Molecule Fluorescence Characterization: The CNST is developing new techniques for 3D nanoscale imaging in nanostructured composite materials using single-molecule fluorescence optical microscopy to map both the nanoscale structure and chemistry of soft-material systems including carbon-based nanocomposites. This effort requires expertise in optics, image processing, statistical analysis, and instrument design and control. A solid background in physics and optics with exposure to single-molecule imaging is a strong plus.
- Nanocomposite Characterization via Transmission Electron Microscopy: the CNST is developing methods for characterizing the complex three-dimensional microstructure in carbon-based nanocomposite materials. This effort requires expertise in transmission electron microscopy, including tomography. A solid background in materials and electron microscopy is a strong plus.
Postdoctoral research in the CNST typically lasts for two years, and is managed through one of three different mechanisms:
1. National Research Council (NRC) Postdoctoral Research Associateship
NRC Postdoctoral Research Associates in the CNST are selected through NIST as part of a competition run by the NRC. NIST participates in two NRC competitions per year, with applications due February 1 and August 1, and notifications in March and September, respectively. This program is open to U.S. citizens only. See the NIST/NRC web page for administrative details. As with any other postdoctoral research, interested scientists and engineers are encouraged to first contact the Project Leader listed on the Research Opportunity.
2. CNST Postdoctoral Researcher
CNST Postdoctoral Researchers are temporary employees of NIST, and must be U.S. citizens. When such positions are available, they are posted at USAJobs (Keyword: CNST).
3. CNST/University of Maryland Postdoctoral Researcher
The CNST has a Cooperative Agreement with the University of Maryland Nanocenter that enables postdoctoral researchers employed by the University of Maryland to work at NIST under the mentorship of CNST Project Leaders. These positions, which do not require U.S. citizenship, are offered continuously throughout the year.