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:

Open positions

Deadline for applications: 1.2.2021

How to apply: Fill in this e-form.
Important: The vancacies at ESRF (see below) are to be applied through the HIP summer job application form, and their deadline is 31.1.2021!

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 biochemistry and biophysics

Our research group (Sharma Research) is located at the Department of Physics, University of Helsinki (Kumpula campus). We study molecular mechanism and function of proteins involved in energy generation by using multi-scale computational approaches. We study their mechanistic aspects in great depth with extensive experimental collaborations in Finland and abroad. Our research is supported by the Academy of Finland, the Sigrid Jusélius Foundation, the University of Helsinki and the Magnus Ehrnrooth Foundation. Some of our recent research has been published in widely read journals.

See our latest publications at -
Our group webpages at -

We are looking for 1-2 talented and motivated students for summer jobs, who are willing to work on challenging problems in computational biochemistry and biophysics. The selected student will utilize Finnish and European high-performance supercomputers to solve life-science problems associated with the molecular mechanisms of proteins involved in energy generation. He or she will learn and apply latest technologies in classical molecular simulations, quantum chemistry, hybrid QM/MM, visualization and Big Data science.

Candidates should have a good track record in studies, and a very basic knowledge of physics, chemistry and biology is expected. A prior general knowledge of Linux OS, and computational tools (such as plotting software, etc) would be an asset. Any experience in modelling and simulation techniques is considered a plus, though not required.

Interested students, please apply through Department of Physics summer job application system. Include a short statement on research interests, one-page CV, and a brief transcript of studies. For more information, please contact Vivek Sharma (vivek.sharma(at)

It is to emphasize that many summer trainees in our group have continued towards BSc/MSc thesis projects, which led to peer-reviewed publications in esteemed journals. Therefore, in our highly productive research group, we not only train younger scientists, but with excellent outcomes in terms of thesis and publications.

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, machine learning  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]

    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

    X-Ray Labor­at­ory

    For more information, please contact

    X-ray imaging of novel food products

    In this project your task is to develop and use methods for imaging the micro-structure of novel food products using X-ray imaging techniques. This involves for example microstructural and compositional 3D characterization using X-rays with optimized techniques and parameters, as well as 3D image analysis to visualize and quantify the results. The project duration is for 6 months, and you are expected to complete a Master’s thesis on the topic. The method and result development will be in close cooperation with researchers specialized in food technology and chemistry. The project is a collaboration with a Finnish company and will be covered by a non-disclosure agreement

    Instrumental development and uranium compound spectroscopy

    Within the collaboration between the chemical analysis and materials characterization laboratory (LMAT) from CEA Marcoule (France) and the Helsinki Institute of Physics (HIP), a laboratory scale x-ray absorption and emission spectroscopy instrument dedicated to the characterization of radioactive samples such as mixed oxide (U, Pu)O2 is being set up and tested at the Center for X-ray Spectroscopy of the University of Helsinki in 2021. In this MSc thesis project, your tasks relate to the development and validation of this new instrumentation, as well as its commissioning through dedicated experimental campaigns. The expected experiments will evaluate the spectrometer performances, especially for actinide’s measurements, and produce fundamental data to unravel the links between experimental observations, i.e. spectral components, and the electronic and local structures of many uranium compounds.

    Projects at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF)
    Note: The following four vacancies are applied through the HIP summer job application form, and the deadline is 31.1.2021!

    ESRF is a highly sophisticated accelerator facility that produces high-energy x-rays with extremely high brilliance. The x-rays are used for studies in different fields in physics and materials science. Within the following projects the student will participate in the development of the new high-energy beamline for x-ray scattering and imaging, ID31 ( and/or beamline ID20 ( for inelastic x-ray scattering. The scientific aim of the beamline is to study heterogeneous devices such as fuel cells, organic solar cells, rechargeable batteries, catalytic materials, etc. The beamlines use hard x-ray synchrotron methods for studying both fundamental physics, materials science, as well as real devices under operating conditions and idealized model systems under precisely controlled environments.

    Project (1): pyBIB - software tool for data visualization and analysis. The student will develop a python graphical software package for data visualization and analysis. The main building blocks will be taken from silx which is a custom library at ESRF. The student should have a basic knowledge of python or a willingness to learn it, and will collaborate with the ESRF data analysis unit.
    Project (2): Lithium ion battery research. The student will test and commission new lithium ion battery materials and designs compatible with X-ray scattering, diffraction and imaging. The student can participate in one or more of the following: assembling battery cells, participate in synchroton X-ray experiments, and analyze the scattering and imaging data and relate it to the battery performance.
    Project (3): Operando Characterization of Distorted Nanocatalysts for Clean Energy Production and Storage. The student will take part in operando X-ray measurements of new generation electrocatalysts operating in a hydrogen fuel cell device. Student will be involved in both practical experimental work and data analysis.
    Project (4): Development of new chemically sensitive x-ray imaging methods. New non-destructive 3D imaging methods are capable of using chemistry of materials as a contrast mechanism (Huotari et al., Nature Materials, Recently, a new concept for a novel, faster and high-resolution imaging method has been proposed and experimental design for it will be constructed and tested. The student can participate in one or more of the following: design of the experimental imaging setup, initial experiments with synchrotron beam, and data analysis.