Summer jobs in materials physics

Materials physics plays an extremely important role in modern science and society. Our research is highly international and we actively use, and collaborate with, large-scale international research facilities such as ESRF, CERN and ITER. There is a large variety of topics within our experimental and computational research, such as nanostructures, biological matter and energy materials. Our research groups are:

Hakuaika päättyy 31.1.2020

Biological physics

The Biological Physics group (about 30 members) at the Department of Physics, University of Helsinki has openings for 3-4 summer job positions. The summer job projects to be done in the team will be based on computer simulations and theory associated with molecular biophysics. The main topics focus on understanding how membrane proteins and receptors are modulated by lipids, and how the given cellular signaling is related to emergence of conditions such as cancer and neurological diseases. Lipids and their interplay with proteins, carbohydrates, and DNA is also key to unlock a variety of further health issues such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, thus these phenomena are also strongly present in the group's project portfolio. The simulations shedding light on these issues combine a variety of approaches starting from quantum-mechanical calculations and extending to classical atomistic simulations and coarse-grained molecular-level considerations. All large-scale projects are coupled to collaborations with experiments in, e.g., biomedicine, cell biology, pharmacology, and structural biology.

The group is a member of the Center of Excellence in Biomembrane Research (Academy of Finland) and hosts a number of major grants such as the ERC Advanced Grant (European Research Council). The group publishes annually > 50 articles in leading journals of the field. The group's work is coupled to the life science research done in the Helsinki Life Science Center, and the group collaborates with > 30 experimental teams world wide.

The positions are intended primarily for undergraduate students of the University of Helsinki, who wish to continue their studies to the MSc level. Later, quite many of our MSc thesis workers also wish to carry on for a PhD degree. Students from other universities such as Aalto University are also encouraged to apply. The choice of the summer job candidates will be based on excellence/skills and motivation. Experience in programming and/or simulations (either on previous courses or in practical work) is considered an asset.

Those interested are requested to apply via the Department of Physics summer job application system. Include a brief statement of research interests and motivation, CV, and an excerpt from the study rolls.

Questions can be directed to Prof. Ilpo Vattulainen (ilpo.vattulainen[a] For further information of the team, please see the web links and

Computational Materials and Nanophysics

The Materials physics simulation groups at the Department of Physics, University of Helsinki have openings for 2-4 summer student positions in the field of atom-level classical molecular dynamics, kinetic Monte Carlo and/or quantum mechanical modelling of e.g. radiation-matter interactions, surface and mechanical properties. The work is to be done in the large (more than 30 members) and very active (more than 40 international refereed publications annually) closely collaborating materials physics simulations groups of Prof. Kai Nordlund, Docents Antti Kuronen ( and Flyura Djurabekova. In addition to carrying out active independent research, the groups have a broad range of international contacts with leading ion beam, fusion research, and accelerator technology groups around the world, including the Big Science research activities at CERN, ITER and FAIR.

The positions are intended primarily for undergraduate students of the Department of Physics of the University of Helsinki, who have an interesting in continuing research in materials physics at least to the MSc and possibly the PhD level.

The applicants should have a good track record of efficient studies in physics. Experience in programming or atomistic simulations is considered a plus.

If interested, apply via the Department of Physics summer student application system. Include a brief statement of research interests, a CV, and an excerpt from the study rolls. Questions can be directed to Prof. Kai Nordlund, kai.nordlund[a]

X-Ray Laboratory

For more information, please contact

X-ray microtomography & imaging

Want to participate in 3D X-ray microtomography imaging platform? Are you interested in hardware set up & data measurements or programming and algorithms? Or are you more inclined towards imaging and would like take part in multi-disciplinary 3-dimensional x-ray microtomography projects?

X-ray Phase Contrast and Dark Field contrast imaging platform development. Regular x-ray absorption-based tomography is not sufficient to resolve structure of materials with similar densities, e.g., soft tissues, from each other. Novel imaging methods are able to see interfaces between tissues and changes in porosity, for example. These have a tremendous impact on imaging of medical and biological systems. We are going to use this for plant and animal imaging.

Both are suitable for either B.Sc. or M.Sc. theses

X-ray spectroscopy: Li-ion battery chemistry

Are you interested in helping saving the environment and help creating sustainable and more efficient lithium-ion batteries? Perhaps a touch of chemistry and materials research would be welcome for your Master’s thesis?

In international and national collaboration with our partners in inorganic chemistry, we offer a project to study lithium-ion battery chemistry using x-ray absorption spectroscopy. You will work with a project directly relevant for modern society, which depends heavily on energy technology and portable power sources.

The work can be both computational electronic structure simulations and experimental x-ray spectroscopy, or a suitable combination of both. We do experiments and corresponding simulations to interpret the results from the experiments.

This project is suitable for either B.Sc. or M.Sc. thesis.

X-ray spectroscopy: effect of agriculture on lakes and coastal waters

Are you interested in helping saving the environment and our beautiful lakes and coastal waters?

In collaboration with SYKE (Suomen ympäristökeskus, Finnish Environment Institute), we study the agricultural nutrients effects on waters (such as owing to sedimentation in lakes). We will study the chemical cycling of phosphorus in soil samples using x-ray absorption spectroscopy. You will participate and conduct chemical analyses of samples incubated in laboratory environment in collaboration with environmental scientists.

We look for:

  • High motivation for scientific research
  • Proactive attitude toward work
  • Ability to hold a screw driver or to use a computer for simulations
  • Basic programming skills (some grasp of Python or Matlab for instance)
  • Sense of humor considered a plus!

What you will get from us:

  • Interesting and challenging projects that have relevance for the Earth, society and human kind
  • Good working atmosphere and friendly colleagues
  • Possibility to join our futsal, floorball, and/or board gaming activities

Positron and defect physics

There are several positron physics related openings in the Helsinki Accelerator Laboratory. The following review gives some idea of the kind of work done within the antimatter topical area: "Defect identification in semiconductors with positron annihilation: Experiment and theory", Reviews of Modern Physics 85, 1583 (2013).

There are two general related themes for summer projects, "Defect-related phenomena in semiconductors and metals” and "Modeling of positron-defect interactions and positron annihilation in solids". The detailed topic and tasks will be tailored according to the background of a successful candidate.

Experimental projects may involve using positron-emitting 22Na isotopes either directly in contact with studied samples for substrate analysis or using magnetically guided slow positron accelerators for thin film studies. Computational materials and positron physics projects involve application and/or development of atomistic density-functional or quantum many-body (quantum Monte Carlo) simulation techniques for positron-defect interactions in solids.

For further information on possible project topics, please contact the following people:

Experimental positron and defect physics: Prof. Filip Tuomisto

Theory and simulations in positron and materials physics: Dr. Ilja Makkonen