PhD Project ‘Multidimensional in vivo Spectroscopy: Molecular Structure and Dynamics in Complex Biological Reaction Environments’


PhD Project ‘Multidimensional in vivo Spectroscopy: Molecular Structure and Dynamics in Complex Biological Reaction Environments’

As part of the Cluster of Excellence ‘Unifying Systems in Catalysis’ (UniSysCat), the Horch research group ‘Ultrafast Dynamics in Catalysis’ aims to understand complex catalytic systems and superordinate reaction networks by using an integrated approach of advanced spectroscopic and theoretical methods. In particular, we are interested in metalloenzymes – huge metal-containing proteins that catalyse, e.g., the conversion of small molecules like H2 and CO2.

More details about the Horch research group and UniSysCat, can be found here:

Project Description

To establish a “greener” chemistry based on living cells, we envisage the design of a cellular system that uses waste material and unlimited sun light for sustainable hydrogen production. Developing such a system requires a detailed understanding of all involved processes on the molecular and cellular level. Together with multiple partners, the successful candidate will develop a multichannel in vivo spectroscopy approach to target the involved biological macromolecules, relevant cytoplasmic factors, and the interplay of these two types of cellular key determinants. Focusing on the hydrogen-producing enzyme, a [NiFe] hydrogenase, this strategy will expand previously established in vivo spectroscopic strategies by introducing ultrafast and multidimensional infrared techniques that yield details insights into structure, dynamics, and environmental interactions. In total, this approach will provide a guideline for the rational design of cellular catalytic systems.

Relevant Publications

Field of Work

- Ultrafast nonlinear infrared spectroscopic experiments (2D-IR and IR-IR pump-probe)

- Execution of such experiments at international research facilities

- Analysis and interpretation of spectroscopic data

- Interdisciplinary cooperation with other members of the overarching team project

- Manipulation and handling of delicate biological samples supplied by collaboration partners

- If beneficial, calculation of infrared spectroscopic observables by quantum chemical methods

- Writing of scientific articles for publication in international peer-reviewed journals

- Presentation of research results at international scientific conferences

We Offer

We offer a position in an exciting and challenging project with the opportunity to obtain a PhD. The project will be pursued in a dynamic, international, and cooperative team of scientists from different fields of research. The project is also part of UniSysCat, which provides the opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary collaborations and build scientific networks. As a first-class location for science and a vibrant global city, Berlin offers an ideal framework.


Master’s degree (or equivalent) in the field of physics, physical chemistry, biophysics or similar

Desirable Qualification

Expertise and experience in the following areas is desirable, but knowledge in all them of them is not mandatory. Applications from candidates that are willing to learn about the listed aspects are welcome

- Excellent university degree

- Experience with infrared spectroscopy or vibrational spectroscopy in general

- Experience with ultrafast nonlinear spectroscopy and data analysis

- Experience with (pulsed) laser sources and (nonlinear) optics

- Experience with quantum chemical calculations

- Experience with the handling of biological and/or oxygen-sensitive samples 

- Knowledge in biological, inorganic, and/or photo chemistry

- Programming skills, preferably in Python

- Ability to work independently and as part of an interdisciplinary team

- Creativity, enthusiasm, and a genuine interest in the advertised project

- Fluency in English (spoken and written)


Starting Date

As soon as possible

Application Deadline

13 March 2023. Applications sent after the deadline will be considered until the position is filled.


TV-L E13 (67 %) until 31 December 2025, funding by the DFG via UniSysCat, funding extension from other sources is possible

Selection Process

Please send your documents and requests to Dr. Marius Horch (Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein!)

Further details can be found here: