PhD study offer: Unveiling phase transitions mechanisms in antiferroelectric crystals from optical and dielectric spectroscopy

About the studies

Perovskite oxides based on PbZrO3 with small cationic substitution on the Zr position display an intriguing coexistence of ferroelectricity and antiferroelectricity. This unique situation provokes a cascade of phase transitions under external stimuli, which can be used for energy-storage applications and solid-state cooling devices. However, optimization of these properties is needed for the successful application of those materials, which requires a currently-lacking understanding of the mechanisms governing such bi-modal behaviour.

Our synergic approach towards filling this gap is to combine structural and spectroscopic empirical probes at different length and time scales.

We offer a PhD student position to work with the supervisor on antiferroelectric crystals based on PbZrO3 using optical microscopy, far infrared spectroscopy (1 - 300 THz) and Raman scattering in an extremely wide temperature range (10 - 800 K) and under electric fields, in order to unveil the competition between ferroelectric and antiferroelectric orders and understand the phase transition sequence in this oxide material with very promising prospects for energy storage and cooling applications.


This position is open to candidates with a background in Physics or Materials Science. Open minded applicants, with curiosity in understanding physical phenomena behind phase transitions in solid state systems are highly welcome. The candidate should be fluent in English (active level B2 is required), Spanish and Czech are is also possible), and basic programming skills are welcome. We offer the possibility to work in a dynamic and internationally-renowned environment in the field of ferroic and dielectric materials, provided by the Institute of Physics in Prague.

Interested applicants can send their CV, a motivation letter and two references to the future supervisor:
Dr. Elena Buixaderas, Head of the Light scattering group in the Department of Dielectrics (

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Deadline: 15 April 2023


The project offers net scholarship from Charles University of 12 500 CZK/month plus funding from the Institute of Physics, at a minimal level of 25 000 CZK/month for the standard duration of PhD studies (4 years).


  • F. Cordero, E. Buixaderas, C. Galassi, Damage from coexistence of ferroelectric and antiferroelectric domains and clustering of O vacancies in PZT: an elastic and Raman study,  Materials 12(9), 957 (2019)
  • E. Buixaderas et al., Lattice dynamics and domain wall oscillations in morphotropic PZT ceramics, Phys. Rev. B 94, 054315 (2016)
  • E. Buixaderas et al., Compositional behavior of Raman-active phonons in Pb(Zr1−xTix)O3 ceramics Phys. Rev. 91, 014104 (2015)
  • E. Buixaderas et al., Lattice Dynamics and Central-Mode Phenomena in the Dielectric Response of Ferroelectrics and Related Materials, Ferroelectrics 308, 131-192 (2004)

Why should you apply?

  • Work in an academic stimulating environment
  • Work with enthusiastic and open-minded colleagues in an international collective
  • Opportunities for self-development and career growth
  • Large synergy between theory and experiment
  • Opportunity to develop your professional skills and own ideas
  • Many benefits: 5 weeks of holidays + 6  Personal days, meal allowance, multisport-card and more
  • Additional scientific courses, language courses, soft skill courses

About the Institute of Physics in Prague

Founded in 1954, the Institute of Physics (FZU) is a public research institution which carries out basic and applied research in physics  and it is one of the Czech Republic's most successful research institutions. Our international scientific teams work to push the boundaries of knowledge along six main research directions in physics – elementary particle physics, condensed matter physics, solid-state physics, optics, plasma physics and laser physics. The inspirational environment at FZU provides top basic, applied and interdisciplinary research and training for students.  FZU‘s mission is to understand and explain the basic phenomena and processes of this world and to respond to current scientific and technical challenges of society.

About the Department of Dielectrics

The applicant will work in the Department of Dielectrics,, which is one of the biggest Departments in FZU, with about 60 people including numerous students and postdocs from various countries.

The main activities of the Department of Dielectrics cover experimental and theoretical investigations of high-permittivity insulators like liquid crystals, ferroelectrics, multiferroics, piezoelectrics, semiconductor nanostructures, and low-loss materials.

Our mission is to understand materials in which the frequency dependence of the dielectric response can be probed by capacitance, waveguide and optical techniques. The experimental research in the Department of Dielectrics is mostly based on dielectric, infrared, time-domain THz, Raman and neutron spectroscopy, but also calorimetry, nonlinear optics and scanning probe microscopy measurements.