Postdoctoral Research Associate - Atomic-level Studies of Advanced Functional Films

Date: Feb 9, 2024

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 12345 


As a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science national laboratory, ORNL has an extraordinary 80-year history of solving the nation’s biggest problems. We have a dedicated and creative staff of over 6,000 people! Our vision for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) is to cultivate an environment and practices that foster diversity in ideas and in the people across the organization, as well as to ensure ORNL is recognized as a workplace of choice. These elements are critical for enabling the execution of ORNL’s broader mission to accelerate scientific discoveries and their translation into energy, environment, and security solutions for the nation.


We are seeking a postdoctoral research associate in functional quantum materials. The project is centered around the design interfaces via molecular beam epitaxy growth which integrates theory-guided machine learning approaches. The ideal candidate will have experience at international research facilities studying magnetism at the atomic level and an interest in the growth and characterization of thin film and heterostructured quantum materials.


This position will be in the Quantum Heterostructures Group in the Materials Science and Technology Division (MSTD), Physical Sciences Directorate (PSD) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The primary mentor will be Dr. Matthew Brahlek but will be in close collaboration with other group members (Drs. Zac Ward, Rob Moore, and Gyula Eres) and theory collaborator Dr. Panchapakesan Ganesh.


On the technical side, this position will focus on the growth of thin film and heterostructured quantum materials utilizing molecular beam epitaxy and probing the crystalline, electronic, and magnetic properties primarily in our group’s laboratories. It is expected that these samples will be additionally probed using polarized neutron reflectivity or low energy muon spin relaxation beamlines at international user facilities. There will be a strong synergy to leverage theory guidance and machine learning by integrating growth and characterization with the efforts of the theory and computational teams.

The primary focus will be on manipulating functional properties of quantum materials through thin film methods. Current materials of interest include topological materials (Bi2Se3/Bi2Te3 etc., MnBi2Te4, and monolayer Bi etc.), superconductors (simple metals to unconventional systems such as Fe (Te, Se)) and novel magnetic materials (such as altermagnetism in MnTe and emergent magnetism in PdCoO2).


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Characterize electronic, magnetic, and structural properties of thin films.
  • Synthesis of films
  • Atomic-level studies at international synchrotron, neutron, and muon centers.
  • Utilize and customize numerical data analysis and control software (Python, Labview, etc.).
  • Disseminate scientific results in peer-reviewed journals and conferences.
  • Deliver ORNL’s mission by aligning behaviors, priorities, and interactions with our core values of Impact, Integrity, Teamwork, Safety, and Service. Promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility by fostering a respectful workplace – in how we treat one another, work together, and measure success.


Basic Qualifications:

  • A PhD in Condensed Matter Physics, Materials Science, or a related field completed within the last 5 years.
  • Synthesis of films by molecular beam epitaxy and/or pulsed laser deposition.
  • A strong background in polarized neutron reflectivity.


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Background in characterization techniques including transport, magnetic, and structural characterization.
  • A strong record of productive and creative research demonstrated by first-author publications in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at major conferences.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Motivated self-starter with the ability to work independently and to participate creatively in collaborative teams across the laboratory 
  • Ability to function well in a fast-paced research environment, set priorities to accomplish multiple tasks within deadlines, and adapt to ever changing needs


Applicants cannot have received their Ph.D. more than five years prior to the date of application and must complete all degree requirements before starting their appointment. The appointment length will be for up to 24 months with the potential for extension. Initial appointments and extensions are subject to performance and the availability of funding.


Please submit three letters of reference when applying to this position. You can upload these directly to your application or have them sent to with the position title and number referenced in the subject line.


Instructions to upload documents to your candidate profile:

  • Login to your account via
  • View Profile
  • Under the My Documents section, select Add a Document


Benefits at ORNL:  

ORNL offers competitive pay and benefits programs to attract and retain talented people. The laboratory offers many employee benefits, including medical and retirement plans and flexible work hours, to help you and your family live happy and healthy. Employee amenities such as on-site fitness, banking, and cafeteria facilities are also provided for convenience.

Other benefits include: Prescription Drug Plan, Dental Plan, Vision Plan, 401(k) Retirement Plan, Life Insurance, Pet Insurance, Generous Vacation and Holidays, Parental Leave, Legal Insurance with Identity Theft Protection, Employee Assistance Plan, Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts, Wellness Programs, Educational Assistance, Relocation Assistance, and Employee Discounts.


If you have difficulty using the online application system or need an accommodation to apply due to a disability, please email:


This position will remain open for a minimum of 5 days after which it will close when a qualified candidate is identified and/or hired.

We accept Word (.doc, .docx), Adobe (unsecured .pdf), Rich Text Format (.rtf), and HTML (.htm, .html) up to 5MB in size. Resumes from third party vendors will not be accepted; these resumes will be deleted and the candidates submitted will not be considered for employment.

If you have trouble applying for a position, please email

ORNL is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants, including individuals with disabilities and protected veterans, are encouraged to apply.  UT-Battelle is an E-Verify employer.

Nearest Major Market: Knoxville