PhD scholarship in Design and Modeling of Ultra-Sensitive Bio-Magnetometers

Wednesday 06 Oct 21

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Do you want to contribute to a future where we can potentially understand diseases in the human brain by measuring the tiny magnetic fields created by neurons in the brain? At DTU Energy our research is targeting exactly this, and we are looking for a new PhD student to numerically aid our team in the design of biomagnetometers.

It is possible to get a deeper understanding of how the brain functions in a non-invasive way through sensing the tiny magnetic fields produced by neuronal currents. Today, this need is primarily met by quantum sensors that must be operated at cryogenic temperatures, which greatly increases the complexity and cost of making such measurements. Therefore, research on alternative methods to detect tiny magnetic fields are a top priority.

In a large Novo Nordisk Foundation sponsored project called BIO-MAG, we aim to create magnetic sensors with subpicotesla sensitivity and use these sensors to map neuron activity at room-temperature. As part of this large project, we are looking for a PhD-student to help us design such sensors using numerical modeling. Using finite element modelling techniques we will study the interplay between material properties and the design of the sensor, which your fellow PhD colleagues will then fabricate and test in the lab.

You will model how the magnetic field changes the current flow in a sensor depending on the material properties and the geometric design of the sensor. The questions we are trying to answer are the following:

  • Which materials should we use to design the sensor?
  • What is the ideal design of the sensor for detecting subpicotesla magnetic fields?
  • Can we control the trajectory of the current in magnetic fields?
  • Can we form automated or machine learning-based routines to answer the above questions?

You will work in close collaboration with PhD-students at DTU Physics and University of Copenhagen, which will realize your designs in the lab, provide experimental input to your modelling and ultimately use the sensors to detect the activity in live neurons in real-time. You will also have the opportunity to carry out measurements of magnetic properties yourself, if you so desire.

Qualified applicants must have:

  • A strong drive to move the frontiers of science.
  • Masters degree (120 ECTS points) in physics, astronomy, mathematics, engineering, chemistry or similar.
  • Experience with electromagnetism as gained e.g. from a standard physics curriculum course.
  • Experience with numerical modelling techniques (ideally finite element modelling) and programming (e.g. Matlab or Python)
  • Ability to work independently, to plan and carry out complicated tasks, and to be a part of a large, dynamic group.
  • Good communication skills in English, both written and spoken.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

The expected starting date is in the beginning of 2022. We are flexible with the exact starting time.

Further information
Please contact Professor Rasmus Bjørk, +45 46 77 58 95, or Assistant Professor Dennis Valbjørn Christensen, +45 20 96 19 46,

Please do not send applications to this e-mail address, instead apply online as described below.

You can read more about DTU Energy at

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark.

Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 1 December 2021 (Danish time). 

Applications must be submitted as one pdf file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online," fill in the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one pdf file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and excel spreadsheet here)

You may apply prior to obtaining your master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Energy
The Department of Energy Conversion and Storage is focusing on functional materials and their application in sustainable energy technology. Our research areas include fuel cells, electrolysis, solar cells, electromechanical converters, sustainable synthetic fuels, and batteries. The Department, which has more than 200 employees, was founded in 2012. Additional information about the department can be found on

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 12,900 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. DTU has campuses in all parts of Denmark and in Greenland, and we collaborate with the best universities around the world.