Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Jobs

Job Information

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Post Doctorate RA - Low-Temperature Research Physicist in RICHLAND, Washington

Organization and Job ID

Job ID: 311171

Directorate: National Security

Division: Signatures Science & Technology

Group: Detection Physics

Job Description

The Detection Physics Group within the National Security Directorate at PNNL works at the nexus of fundamental physics and national security with a focus on ultrasensitive detection and instrumentation. Additionally, we pursue R&D at the intersections of Quantum Information Science (QIS) with high-energy physics and nuclear physics, focusing on the use of quantum sensors and microwave electronics for QIS and other applications. Selected researchers may contribute to our group’s applied programs, assisting with the cross-pollination of new methods and technologies in sensor development relevant to both basic research and applied research for national security. This cross-disciplinary, entrepreneurial environment is a strength that the Detection Physics Group has fostered and maintained over multiple decades. Each selected researcher will have opportunities to contribute to our QIS and applied research activities as well as our dark matter and neutrino physics experiments.

The Detection Physics group is seeking recent Ph.D. graduates with a background in experimental physics to contribute to a variety of projects exploring the properties of device materials at very low-temperatures, including performing experiments using a dilution refrigerator. The successful candidate will have hands-on experience in designing and operating experimental systems, conducting experiments, and analyzing results to quantify properties and equipment performance. Preferably, candidate’s experience will include cryogenic systems, vacuum systems, and/or sensor development. Preferred candidates will have a background in material science, thermodynamics, and heat transfer. The candidate will work with a multi-disciplinary team and be expected to contribute to the design and modeling of experiments, work with the team to install and instrument test fixtures, conduct experiments, analyze results and report findings. Excellent communication and presentation skills are required, and preference will be given to candidates with a demonstrated ability to publish completed research.

Minimum Qualifications

Candidates must have received a PhD within the past five years (60 months) or within the next 8 months from an accredited college or university.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Preference will be given to candidates with technical expertise in one or more of the following areas:

  • Low-temperature systems : operation and instrumentation of cryogenic systems, including dilution refrigerators, noble liquid detectors, vacuum systems, and gas and liquid handling systems.

  • Vacuum systems: Experience with vacuum engineering materials and manufacturing methods (polymers, metals, traditional machining, welding, sheet metal forming, etc.)

  • Low-noise detectors : design of low-noise detector systems, with a strong background in characterization of environmental noise factors.

  • Quantum sensors : instrumentation and operation of quantum sensors (e.g., superconducting qubits, kinetic inductance detectors, or transition edge sensors).

  • Microwave electronics : experience instrumenting and reading out experiments with radiofrequency electronics (e.g., superconducting qubits or resonant cavities in axion searches).

  • Useful areas of experience may include one or more of the following:

  • Software tools : prior experience with simulation, data analysis and coding packages such as Geant4, ROOT, C++, Python, Jupyter, machine leaning techniques, or familiarly with quantum coding (Qiskit, Cirq, QDK, Forest, etc.).

  • Level of Responsibility : both contributing and leading roles in detector design and development, experiment operations, data analysis, software development, and publication of scientific results.

  • Breadth of scientific knowledge : dark matter, neutrinoless double-beta decay, QIS, or related nuclear, particle and condensed matter physics.

Preferred Education

Minimum Education/Experience: Ph.D. in experimental physics or related fields.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Battelle Memorial Institute (BMI) at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and supports diversity in the workplace. All employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, marital or family status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information. All BMI staff must be able to demonstrate the legal right to work in the United States. BMI is an E-Verify employer. Learn more at

Please be aware that the Department of Energy (DOE) prohibits DOE employees and contractors from participation in certain foreign government talent recruitment programs. If you are offered a position at PNNL and are currently a participant in a foreign government talent recruitment program you will be required to disclose this information before your first day of employment.

Other Information

This position requires the ability to obtain and maintain a federal security clearance.


  • U.S. Citizenship

  • Background Investigation: Applicants selected will be subject to a Federal background investigation and must meet eligibility requirements for access to classified matter in accordance 10 CFR 710, Appendix B.

  • Drug Testing: All Security Clearance (L or Q) positions will be considered by the Department of Energy to be Testing Designated Positions which means that they are subject to applicant, random, and for cause drug testing. In addition, applicants must be able to demonstrate non-use of illegal drugs, including marijuana, for the 12 consecutive months preceding completion of the requisite Questionnaire for National Security Positions (QNSP).

Note: Applicants will be considered ineligible for security clearance processing by the U.S. Department of Energy until non-use of illegal drugs, including marijuana, for 12 consecutive months can be demonstrated.

Directorate: National Security

Job Category: Post-Graduates and Post-Docs

Group: Detection Physics

Opening Date: 2020-09-08

Closing Date: 2020-10-08