PhD Position in Strain Stabilized Metal Halide Perovskite

Catholic University of Leuven


Light detection and emission are crucial for displays, medical and security scanners. Given the societal relevance, there is an emerging need for novel opto-electronic materials with higher conversion efficiency and lower production cost. Metal halide perovskites (MHPs) are promising high-performance semiconductors due to their strong absorption and emission in a broad spectral range and their ease of manufacturing. So far, integration in opto-electronic devices was hampered by inherent stability issues such as the degradation from the optically active “black” phase into an inactive phase. Based on our recent work (Science, 2019, 365(6454), 679-684), you will explore a fundamentally new route to stabilize the black phase under ambient conditions. This innovative concept exploits strain engineering, with MHP thin films fixed to substrates and/or patterned at the nano- to micrometer scale. The work will be performed under supervision of Profs. Hofkens and Roeffaers (PHOTOMAT consortium) which have a strong expertise in the development and use of advanced optical micro(spectro)scopy for the characterization of functional materials. Both groups are house in the Nanocenter of the KU Leuven with access to state-of-the-art synthesis and characterization labs. In recent years, PHOTOMAT has taken a prominent role in the development of better-quality perovskite materials for improved electro-optical performance. This position will start from the current work of Dr. Julian Steele, our lead scientist in this field, and will be further developed in close collaboration with him.


The main goal of this position is the in-depth characterization of strain- and interface-stabilized all-inorganic CsPbI3 perovskite through the use of advanced synchrotron and in-house (micro)spectroscopy. In particular, the project addresses the following questions:

  • What are the underlying factors inducing strain-stabilization?
  • Does strain-induced texture formation influence the electro-optical properties?
  • What are the design rules to ensure long-term stabilization without compromising the inherent performance (optical and electronic)?  

By applying advanced (micro)spectroscopy ranging from synchrotron-based X-ray techniques like GIWAXS to in-house Raman and fluorescence microscopy, we aim to resolve these questions. You will work in close collaboration with the Van Speybroeck group (U Gent), expert in first-principles modelling of functional nanomaterials, and EMAT (U Antwerp, experts in quantitative transmission electron microscopy, to fundamentally understand the strain stabilization.


We are seeking highly motivated candidates that hold a PhD and with a strong background in solid-state physics. Experience with synchrotron-based X-ray tools, and electro-optical characterization. Existing experience and willingness to develop in the following areas are particularly desired:

  • Structural refinement of XRD data, using Fullprof software or equivalent. 
  • Experience in phase change/polymorphic crystals. 
  • Solid-state semiconductor physics, preferably with a background in traditional III-Vs or similar. 

The candidate should be open to interdisciplinary science and collaborations. KU Leuven offers in this respect an ideal environment with a large number of science groups working on different (applied) subjects. The university is one of Europe’s oldest academic institutions and is situated in a medium-sized vibrant student town with a large international community.    


Full-time postdoctoral position

  • one year contract with the possibility of extension
  • international research environment
  • world-class research equipment


For more information please contact

Prof. dr. ir. Maarten Roeffaers, mail:
Prof. dr. Johan Hofkens, mail:
or dr. Julian Steele, mail:
You can apply for this job no later than April 16, 2021 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: April 16, 2021
  • Tags: Wetenschappen

In your application, please refer to


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