PhD on Atomic force microscopy 2: Control for nanotube-based profiling

Eindhoven University of Technology
December 05, 2023
Offerd Salary:€2,770
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Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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PhD on Atomic force microscopy 2: Control for nanotube-based profiling



Irène Curie Fellowship



Mechanical Engineering



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Job description

Increasingly complex 3D shapes are used as Semicon devices, requiring advanced metrology techniques to monitor production and understand performance of the devices. Atomic force microscopy allows to reach the required sub-nm accuracy by using relatively blunt probes, sensing always in the same direction, but only the top of the 3D shapes can be explored.

This PhD project is part of a larger project in collaboration with TNO (Dutch Organization for Applied Scientific Research) and the semiconductor metrology company Nearfield Instruments, which aims to enable the use of nanotube-based probes to scan the profile on the samples with more challenging topographies. The nanotube probe shape strongly improves how well holes or trenches in the sample can be accessed. However, the slender probes become weaker in lateral direction, while sensitivity in this direction is also needed to thoroughly scan the samples. Within the project, this position focuses on the control for the nanotube-based profiling, whereas the other two work on the modelling and experimental part of the project.

Job Description

This PhD Position aims to provide the control techniques required to keep the probe in proximity of the sample and to ensure that the metrology objectives are achieved. Control challenges on the nanotube-based profiling include 1) navigation of the probe towards the point of interest on the sample; 2) facilitating 2D profile sensing and selecting the correct sensing direction for this part of the sample; and 3) profile reconstruction based on measurement signals. You will contribute to these challenges by

  • The design of controllers that, using real-time measurements, generate a path along the sample profile and optimize the sensing direction to ensure that enough profile measurements are generated along the sample contour, minimizing blind spots.
  • The development of estimation technique exploiting the known stage dynamics, as well as the modelled probe dynamics, to provide highly accurate profile information.
  • Demonstrating (elements of) the developed control concepts on an existing AFM.
  • Embedding

    You will execute this project in the Autonomous and Complex Systems group of the Dynamics and Control (D &C) section at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Eindhoven University of Technology, and TNO Optomechatronics in Delft.

    The mission of the Dynamics and Control Section, which consists of 22 faculty members and 45 researchers, is to perform research and train next-generation students on the topic of understanding and predicting the dynamics of complex engineering systems in order to develop advanced control, estimation, planning, and learning strategies which are at the core of the intelligent autonomous systems of the future: Designing and realizing smart autonomous systems for industry and society.

    TNO Optomechatronics develops world-class optomechatronic systems for applications in space, big science, and the semiconductor industry. We push back the boundaries of technology, so as to give impetus to the high-tech industry and enable scientific discoveries.

    Job requirements
  • You have experience with or a strong background in mechanical engineering, especially in the context of control. Preferably, you finished a Master's program in the areas of Mechanical Engineering, Systems and Control, Electrical Engineering, Mechatronics, Micro/Nanosystems, (Applied) Physics, (Applied) Mathematics, or equivalent.
  • You have good communication skills and the attitude to participate successfully in the work of a research team.
  • You are motivated to develop your teaching skills and coach students.
  • You have good command of the English language (knowledge of Dutch is not required).
  • Conditions of employment

    A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we offer you:

  • Full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months. You will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • Salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, paid pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, scale P (min. €2,770 max. €3,539).
  • A year-end bonus of 8.3% and annual vacation pay of 8%.
  • High-quality training programs and other support to grow into a self- aware, autonomous scientific researcher. At TU/e we challenge you to take charge of your own learning process.
  • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children's day care and sports facilities.
  • An allowance for commuting, working from home and internet costs.
  • A Staff Immigration Team and a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) for international candidates.
  • Information and application

    About us

    Eindhoven University of Technology is an internationally top-ranking university in the Netherlands that combines scientific curiosity with a hands- on attitude. Our spirit of collaboration translates into an open culture and a top-five position in collaborating with advanced industries. Fundamental knowledge enables us to design solutions for the highly complex problems of today and tomorrow.


    More information about the project can be obtained through the project's supervisory team: E. Steur (, I. Cortes Garcia (, and H. Nijmeijer (

    Visit our website for more information about the application process or the conditions of employment. You can also contact

    Are you inspired and would like to know more about working at TU/e? Please visit our career page.


    We invite you to submit a complete application by using the apply button. The application should include a:

  • Cover letter in which you describe your motivation and qualifications for the position.
  • Curriculum vitae, including a list of your publications (if any) and the contact information of three references.
  • Transcript of BSc and MSc courses with grades.
  • We look forward to receiving your application and will screen it as soon as possible. The vacancy will remain open until the position is filled.

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