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Postdoc Position in Experimental Interferometry at APC

Aug 09, 2019

The LISA team at the APC in Paris is recruiting an experimental physicist (post-doc or research engineer) to contribute to the development of ultra-stable interferometric benches, in preparation of the optical systems required to characterise the LISA instruments.
Interviews of selected candidates will take place end of August / beginning of September, with an expected hiring date on October 1st, 2019.
More details are available below.

The APC laboratory (University of Paris) is looking for an expert in instrument science for developing and working on ultra-stable interferometric optical benches.
More specifically, he/she will be working within the LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) team from the APC laboratory.

LISA is an ESA-led space mission composed of 3 separate satellites, 2.5 million km apart, aimed at detecting low frequency gravitational waves. Selected by ESA in 2017, the LISA mission is scheduled for launch in 2034 and is currently in Phase A (preliminary definition). The French contribution, under the supervision of CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales), focuses on the integration and validation of the LISA instruments. In this context, the APC is responsible for developing a test bench based on laser interferometry that will demonstrate the ability to characterize ground-based instruments prior to launch.

Within the team, the candidate will participate to different optical experiments and demonstrators, as required to prepare for the tasks of integrating and testing the various sub- systems of the onboard instrument. These developments require the implementation of optical techniques related to laser heterodyne interferometric measurement techniques at very high precision and very high stability. The expected stability performance is at a few pm and μrad levels over periods of several hundred seconds. Stability requirements for this type of measurement will also require addressing the opto-mechanical and thermal aspects of the systems.


The proposed activities will cover different aspects. The first of them is to participate, in collaboration with experts from the field and within a large French collaboration (8 research institutes and CNES), to the realization of an optical bench using high precision heterodyne interferometry. This test bench aims at demonstrating the feasibility of integration and characterization of the LISA instrument and will evolve to gain representativeness and according to the needs of the project.

Three steps are presently considered in the realization of this optical demonstrator:
• The complete realization of an interferometric bench on an Invar board, implementing the final optical design, allowing both to validate the technical solutions and implement the integration and testing procedures
• Manufacturing supervision and integration of a Zerodur bench and its tests in a representative environment
• The coupling of this device with an external bench and the measurement of the stability of the interface.
The candidate should be ready to present his/her results to the CNES and the LISA Consortium. Short trips in France or abroad (Europe, United States) are also to be considered.

Expected Skills

Graduated with an engineering degree and / or a PhD in physics with expertise in instrumentation, you have skills in optics, laser and interferometry. You are immediately operational in these areas. Experience in the field of heterodyne interferometry is a plus, as well as previous experience in optical instrumentation for LISA or similar projects, such as VIRGO, LIGO or LISA Pathfinder.

Your theoretical and practical knowledge allows you to evolve in a mixed team of physicists and engineers and take responsibility for project tasks. You have skills in different instrumentation-related fields, are autonomous in the completion of your tasks and can adapt quickly to new requirements and experimental constraints. You have a good relationship and appreciate working in teams.

In particular, you have experiences and / or knowledge in the following areas:
- Expertise in optical instrumentation (both theoretical and experimental)
- Expertise in optical systems design
- Knowledge in the use of optical simulation tools (Zemax, Matlab, FRED ...)
- Knowledge and implementation of low noise interferometry techniques, optical metrology -General knowledge in the different fields of physics, instrumentation, electronics and mechanics.

- Good knowledge of scientific and technical English
- Capability to present results to international agencies and partners - Aptitude and experience of working in a clean room

Research environment

The APC laboratory is a joint research unit of the CNRS, the Paris Diderot University / University of Paris, with CEA, the Observatoire de Paris and CNES as secondary supervising institutes. The laboratory works at the interface between astrophysics and high energy physics and is involved in several space missions of CNES, ESA and NASA - e.g: LISAPathfinder and LISA, ATHENA, EUSO, SVOM, EUCLID, TARANIS, etc. - as well as ground-based experiments such as VIRGO-Ad, QUBIC, KM3NET, CTA, DUNE, etc., which are all being developped within international collaborations.

Within a matrix-type organization, you will be assigned to the 'Experimental Techniques' Department and you will join the LISA multidisciplinary project team by bringing your skills in optics and instrumentation.

Contract details

The expected hiring date is on October 1st, 2019. The contract is for one year, with a possibility of extension to 2 years.

Depending on the candidate’s working experience, wages will be between 2 470 € and 2664 € before taxes.

Application procedure

If you are interested by the proposed position, please send a résumé, one motivation and two recommendation letters to: hubert.halloin(at)

Interviews (on site or remotely) shall be organized during the last week of August and first week of September.