Source: COST Annual Report 2017 | April 10, 2018

COST has chosen the histories of Luca Argenti as one of the 10 success stories featured in its 2017 Annual Report. It is an example of an early career investigator who, thanks to his involvement in COST XLIC Action activities, got a new research position, had opportunities to learn from their more experienced peers across Europe and contributed to new scientific breakthroughs.

Luca Argenti was part of a COST network that was a ‘virtual institute’ of worldwide experts in his field. He joined the ‘XUV/X-ray light and fast ions for ultrafast chemistry’ (XLIC) Action from its start in 2013.

The Action, chaired by Manuel Alcami (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and IMDEA-Nanoscience) aimed to coordinate European scientists to find possible applications for novel light sources and particle accelerators.   XLIC created a network of experts in ionisation and laser physics from 150 groups in Europe, the USA, Australia and Ukraine. Together, they developed  theories, research techniques and computer programs that can help scientists better understand and control how molecules interact with x-ray light waves or with high-energy ions – molecules with an electric charge.

Argenti’s commitment to the Action led to personal success. “COST presented me to the world. I met all the experimentalists and theoreticians with whom I did my most impactful works, landing papers in Science, Nature and Nature Communications”, he says.

The contacts led to a major career step. In 2016, he became an assistant professor in the University of Central Florida, where he is now creating his own research group. “This was thanks to the COST Action,” he says.

Although he is now in the USA, he still has close ties with XLIC colleagues and would like to be involved in future COST Actions. “COST takes researchers out of seclusion and gives real meaning to ‘synergy’. It is a good incubator for long-term projects with a high impact,” he concludes.

Dr. Antonio Picón at the Chemistry Department ( of the University Autónoma de Madrid (Spain) is looking for a for a PhD candidate to work in attosecond spectroscopy in complex systems. The candidate should ideally start by September/October 2018 and may be hired for up to 3 years.

The research project: Resolving the real-time motion of electrons in complex physical systems is fundamental to advance novel functionalities in catalytic molecules and two-dimensional materials such as graphene. Future studies using ultrafast capabilities with few-/sub-femtosecond x-ray pulses are essential to understand the optical response of these systems in the early steps and unveil the role of electron-electron and electron-nuclear couplings.. The aim of this project is to develop a novel theoretical approach to understand the role of electron transport in these complex systems via attosecond x-ray spectroscopy. More information can be found at:

Eligibility Criteria: Prospect candidates must have, by the date of appointment (September, 2018), a Bachelor degree in physics or chemistry (3 years) and a post graduate specialization degree (e.g. MSc) in Physics or Chemical Physics; good knowledge of at least one programming language (Fortran 90, C, C++, Python, etc.); knowledge of quantum mechanics, solid state physics, basic atomic, molecular and optical physics, and numerical methods; Fluent English; enthusiasm for learning and commitment to teamwork.

Application procedure: Interested candidates are kindly requested to check all details about the application procedure at: . Applications not complying with the call guidelines may be discarded. Deadline for the submission of applications is May 20th, 2018.

Funding: The Comunidad de Madrid regional government provides funding for this job from the call to attract research talent to work in research groups at the Madrid region (Ref. 2017-T1/IND-5432).

Phd position – application form
Phd Call Guidelines

We are looking for a postdoctoral appointee to work in one of the two detailed projects below under the supervision of Dr. Antonio Picón at the Chemistry Department ( of the University Autónoma de Madrid (Spain).

  • Starting date: The position is expected to start by September 2018, and may be funded for two years, subject to the positive evaluation of the hired researcher.
  • Remuneration: Gross salary (before applying national income taxes) is 30.000 Euros/year (it includes Spanish Social Security and public healthcare).


  • Studies of electron transport induced by IR and mid-IR pulsed lasers in semiconductor and two-dimensional materials.
    Resolving the real-time motion of carriers amongst valence and conduction band states provides the foundation for the development of materials with novel functionality and the advancement of modern electronics. Future studies using ultrafast capabilities with few-/sub-femtosecond x-ray transient absorption are essential to understand the optical response of materials in the early steps and unveil the role of electron-electron and electron-phonon scattering. The aim of this project is to develop a novel theoretical approach to understand the role of electron transport in semiconductor and other attractive two-dimensional materials via x-ray spectroscopy.
  • Studies of charge migration in relevant biomolecules and in photosensitizers molecules for catalysis research.
    Charge migration plays a fundamental question to be addressed in the next years, especially for the development of imaging techniques in biomolecules with few-femtosecond/sub-femtosecond x-ray pulses. The group has a strong tradition in this important research line. This project plans to simulate the x-ray probing and explore the possibility with ultrashort x-rays to track the induced charge migration. These studies will be possible to be experimentally conducted in free-electron laser (XFEL) facilities and in novel soft-x-ray HHG-laser-based sources.


  • PhD degree in Physics, Material Physics, Chemical Physics or related,
  • Strong background in quantum chemistry, including the modeling of electronic excited states.
  • Experience in FORTRAN/C++ programming, treatment of periodic systems and/or dynamical calculations will be positively considered.


Applicants should send his/her CV, including the names of two persons of reference, and contact information (in a single pdf file named as the candidate) to before May 30th 2018. Please, include the reference 2017-T1/IND-5432 in the subject of your message.
Recommendation letters could be requested during the selection process.
Selected candidates shall be contacted for an interview.


The Comunidad de Madrid regional government provides funding for this job in the frame the call to attract research talent to work in research groups at the Madrid region (Ref. 2017-T1/IND-5432).

A two year post-doctoral research assistant (PDRA) positions is available at The Open University to work in the group Dr. Jimena Gorfinkiel ( starting in early 2018. The work involves implementing significant improvements to the UKRmol+ suite, in order to produce a software suite to accurately describe atoms and molecules  in intense, ultra-short light fields.

The position is funded by the grant R-matrix suites for multielectron attosecond dynamics in atoms and molecules irradiated by arbitrarily polarised light, a collaboration between The Open University and Queen’s University Belfast with collaborators from University College London, Max Born Institute for Non-linear Optics, Quantemol Ltd.  and the Scientific Computing Department at STFC.

Qualifications and Requirements:

  • A PhD in physics, computational chemistry or a closely related field.
  • Experience of applying techniques of high performance computing to problems in physics/chemistry and excellent knowledge of Fortran 95
  • Good numerical analysis and problem solving skills
  • The ability to work both independently and cooperatively as a productive member of a geographically distributed team.

More details and information on how to apply can be found here:   For an informal discussion of the project contact Jimena directly: The deadline for applications is 23 November.

STSM by Mark Stockett, Stockholm University (SE) with Steen Brøndsted Nielsen, Aarhus University (DK)
On April 23, 2017 (7 days)

Electronic properties of Flavin Adenine Dinucleotide anions

The purpose of this Short Term Scientific Mission (STSM) was to investigate the photo-induced dissociation of flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) anions in vacuo. These experiments utilized the Sep1 accelerator mass spectrometer complex at Aarhus University, Department of Physics and Astronomy. Our scientific aim was to assess the plausibility of the proposed role if FAD in the perception of magnetic fields by migratory birds. Using a combination of optical spectroscopy and mass spectrometry techniques known as action spectroscopy, we investigated the excited state photophysics and relaxation dynamics of isolated FAD anions.

At Sep1, FAD anions were transferred into vacuum by electrospray ionizaton and accelerated to 50 keV. The photo-induced dissociation (PID) mass spectrum was recorded by irradiating mass-selected FAD anions with a high-intensity pulsed OPO laser at a fixed wavelength and separating the daughter anions with an electrostatic energy analyzer. For the most abundant daughter ions, excitation energy (wavelength) dependence measurements, so-called action spectra, and pulse energy dependence measurements were performed. A surprising result was the observation of dissociation channels activated by the absorption of a single photon, and which were much less prominent in collision induced dissociation (CID) experiments. This suggests that ultrafast excited state processes may lead to non-statistical fragmentation of these ions.

This highly productive STSM resulted in a wealth of new data on the photo-physics FAD anions. After further analyzing these results, including computational modeling of the dissociation processes, we will prepare a manuscript for publication. We expect follow-up measurements and experiments on similar systems to lead to a long a fruitful collaboration between Stockholm and Aarhus Universities.

STSM by Tamas Rozgonyi, Research Centre for Natural Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HU) with Philipp Marquetand, University of Vienna (AT)
On April 24, 2017 (6 days)

Ab initio molecular dynamics simulations of photodissociation of halomethanes with SHARC

Dihalomethanes, such as CH2I2, have been popular benchmark systems of femtochemistry for a long time. Their photodissociation into different channels is essentially a multidimensional problem involving the stretching of both carbon-halogen bonds, bending of their bond angle and planarization of the main photofragment. The goal of the STSM was to initiate ab initio molecular dynamics simulations with the SHARC program package to get further insight into the dissociation dynamics governed by strong non-adiabatic effects and spin-orbit couplings.

The dynamics was first simulated by SHARC using the ab initio method, CASSCF, starting from the Franck-Condon region on bright singlet excited states. Potential energy scans with the more accurate and thus much more time-consuming ab initio method, CAPT2 along sample preliminary CASSCF trajectories have shown that using the higher level of theory is unevitable. A couple of trajectories have been obtained so far at the CASPT2 level, all showing vibrationally and rotationally hot CH2I formation.

While further trajectory computations are needed for reliable statistics on the possible outcomes of dissociation, Dyson norm computations for the relevant excited states at geometries along the trajectories are also in progress. This will enable a direct comparison between our simulations and the time-resolved photoelectron spectra recently obtained in pump-probe measurements by Prof. Thomas Weinacht at Stony Brook University.

Figure: The figure displays the energies of the adiabatic states along a SHARC / CASPT2 trajectory leading to ground state CH2I fragment and spin-orbit excited I atom. The energy of the active state governing the nuclear motion is displayed by black circles.

STSM by Alicja Domaracka, CIMAP-CNRS (FR) with Paola Bolognesi ISM-CNR, (IT)
On January 27, 2017 (5 days)

A new method to determine of energy-transfer distributions in ionizing ion-molecule collisions via photoelectron-photoion coincidence experiments in furan molecule

A detailed knowledge of the response of complex molecular systems to ionization or excitation and its influence on chemical reactivity is required to fully understand processes in astrophysical environments, planetary atmospheres as well as mechanisms associated with radiation damage. The study of such systems requires the support of theoretical investigations. However, a meaningful comparison between experimental and theoretical results requires the knowledge of the energy transferred in the radiation interaction. This is straightforward in photon absorption processes, but in case of ion interaction very difficult as collisions occur at different impact parameters, thus associated with a wide distribution of energy transfer. Recently, the joint effort of the CIMAP group (France), the CNR-ISM group (Italy) and the UAM group (Spain) has proposed a new method to determine of energy-transfer distributions in ionizing ion-molecule collisions via photoelectron-photoion coincidence experiments in the case of thymidine molecule (S. Maclot et al, Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 07321 (2016)).

The objective of the present mission to the Elettra Synchrotron (Trieste, Italy) was to investigate the state-selected fragmentation of furan (a prototype of planar five membered hetero-aromatic compounds) and glycine (the simplest amino acid) molecules in the valence and inner valence ionization region. Figure 1a) shows obtained photoelectron spectra (PES) at 60 eV for glycine molecule. Based on obtained PES we selected binding energy values in vide range from the ionization threshold up to 30-40 eV to perform Photoelectron-Photoion Coincidence spectra (PEPICO), see Figure 1b).

The obtained results will be implemented in the proposed method to determine energy transfer ion –molecule collisions. Our aim is to fully validate the proposed method and to estimate the energy transfer in ion collisions with different impact parameters. The CIMAP group, from the French ion beam facility (GANIL), has already measured mass spectra for different ions (He2+, O3+, O6+, Ar11+ and Xe25+) at for glycine molecule and the experiments with furan molecule are planned in this year.

  Figure 1  a) Photoelectron spectra obtained at 60 eV for glycine (83°C) molecule. The lines indicate selected binding energy values for PEPICO investigations. b) PEPICO spectra for glycine molecules for six selected binding energy between 8.5 eV and 32 eV.

At the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of Vienna the position of a University Professor of Physical Chemistry (full time, permanent position) is to be filled.

In the research work the applicant should cover a topic of current interest in experimental Physical Chemistry.
The faculty expects the candidate to participate in teaching activities at the level of  Bachelor, Master and PhD curricula, thereby covering the full range of topic in the field of Physical Chemistry.
The University especially encourages younger candidates to apply and offers them an internationally competitive start-up package.

More details in the following document: StA_ProfPhysikChem_englisch_Mai17

STSM by Károly Tokési, ATOMKI (HU) with Christoph Lemell, Vienna University of Technology (AT)
On April 18, 2017 (11 days)

Photoionization using attosecond streaking technique

The goal of the STSM was the investigation of the photoionization of water using attosecond streaking technique. We have determined all necessary input parameters in order to simulate photoelectron transport through water. We calculated the total and angular differential elastic and inelastic scattering cross sections with the elastic and inelastic mean free paths.

 During the STSM we improved our classical transport code including the special boundary conditions of our liquid system. We also improved the input data of the calculation, focusing on the lower energy range of the electron transport simulation. We took into account both elastic and inelastic collisions during the simulation. For the case of the elastic scattering of electrons we used the static field approximation with non-relativistic Schrödinger partial wave analysis. For the case of inelastic scattering we used the dielectric response formalism. We developed a new computer code to study the interaction between laser and water.

 The present STSM was very successful. The proposed objectives were achieved. A classical transport code was improved, which allows the theoretical study of electron emission from liquid water excited with external laser fields by streaking technique.

We provided an important contribution to the deeper understanding of the physics of electron emission in laser-water collisions. The material science community, in particular the physics of condensed matter, and also applied research in atomic manipulation on surfaces will clearly gain from this new understanding.

The results will be published in international journals. The support of the COST Action will be greatly acknowledged in the publications.

The DFG-funded International Research Training Group 2079 “Cold Controlled Ensembles in Physics and Chemistry” at University of Freiburg offers 1 PhD position in the field of femtosecond spectroscopy of cold molecular and cluster beams ( The PhD program in collaboration with the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, offers dual supervision by supervisors from both research sites, and an extended stay at UBC.

We are looking for excellent MSc graduates in Physics, Chemistry or a related area with an interest in interdisciplinary, multinational research. The salary will be determined in accordance with TV-L E13 (75%).

Inquiries and applications should be sent to: Documents should be sent as a single pdf-file including a letter of motivation, a curriculum vitae, a list of publications (if available) and the contact details of at least two referees. Further Information can be found at

The University of Freiburg seeks to increase the number of female scientific faculty members and therefore strongly encourages qualified women to apply for the position. The university is committed to providing a family-friendly workplace. In case of equal qualification persons with disabilities (Schwerbehinderte) will be given preference.