PhD position - Unveiling the properties of Warm Dense Matter for energy generation by fusion

Context & Job description

You will join ID24’s and BM23’s team at the ESRF, two beamlines dedicated to X-ray Absorption (XAS) coupled to static and dynamic extreme conditions. In particular, this PhD project is related to the development of the new High Power Laser Facility (HPLF-I) that couples a 100J laser to the energy dispersive brunch of ID24, in order to perform nanosecond time resolved XAS measurements of matter submitted to laser shock dynamic compression. 

The aim of the PhD project is to characterize the structural and electronic properties of high-Z metals, namely Fe, Cu and Ta, subjected to high-power laser shock and release up to the TPa range. Understanding of the physical properties of these metals under such extreme conditions is relevant for Inertial Confinement Fusion research, carried out by the industrial partner First Light Fusion based in UK.

You will have to contribute to the development of this new facility, and get acquainted with all the experimental aspects: the X-ray probe, the drive laser and the optical shock diagnostics (VISAR and SOP) and their combination, in order to obtain relevant data. You will have to develop data analysis skills and work in collaboration with shock physics experts from the academic partner LULI2000 laboratory.

Further information may be obtained from Dr. Raffaella Torchio (tel.: +33 (0) 476882906, email: and from Alessandra Ravasio (tel.: +33(0)169335358, email: and from Hugo Doyle (tel.:+44(0)1865807670, email:, and from Daniel Eakins (tel.: +44 (0)1865 613078, email:

Expected profile

  • Degree allowing enrolment for a PhD (such as MSc, Master 2 de Recherche, Laurea or equivalent) in physics, materials science
  • A background in experimentation is desirable, a background in extreme conditions and/or lasers and optics and/or XAS would be an advantage
  • Manual skills and rigorous attention to detail are essential in this work environment
  • Proficiency in English (A proof of upper-intermediate level would be advantageous and can be provided in the application. Applicants originating from native-English-speaking countries can apply without the need for proof of level. An official degree conducted in English will be also accepted as a proof; Students without proof upper-intermediate level may still apply and their level of English will be checked during the interview).
  • Compliance with the Marie Sklodowska-Curie mobility rule: candidates may not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in France for more than twelve months in the three years immediately before the date of recruitment.
  • At the date of recruitment, early-stage researchers must be in the first four years of their research careers and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree.
  • Candidates must satisfy eligibility criteria according to the partner university requirements for PhD enrolment.

More details about the application procedure on

Working conditions

The successful candidate will be enrolled in the doctoral school of Ecole Polytechnique, Université Paris‐Saclay, France and based full-time at the ESRF (Grenoble, France), other than a 3-months secondment at Company First Light Fusion in Oxford (UK). Additional visits totaling no more than 3 months may be made to the Ecole Polytechnique  (LULI laboratory) when needed. Furthermore, a varied pedagogical training programme will be offered to the successful candidate throughout the 3-year PhD project.

More details on the InnovaXN programme on

Company description

InnovaXN is a Horizon 2020 MSCA COFUND programme providing an opportunity for 40 industrial companies to work with 40 PhD students, performing advanced research and exploiting the unique characterisation techniques of the ESRF and ILL. Through collaborations with industry, innovation will be the central theme of the programme. This will provide a unique cross academic-industry science setting, secondment opportunities and society-relevant research, training the future key researchers able to tackle major research and societal challenges.

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