PhD position - ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Announced 09.01.2019

Parallel detection of stable C isotopes & 14C for paleoclimate studies in stalagmites

A major research focus of the Biogeoscience group (ETH Zurich) in close colloaboration with the Laboratory of Ion Beam Physics is the development of novel analytical methods for the measurement of radiocarbon (14C) using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). Pushing the analytical capabilities towards new frontiers enables us to derive novel paleoclimatological information.

Topic: Stalagmites are ideal climate archives as they form layer by layer and can be precisely dated by uranium-series methods. Our ETH research proposal focuses the development of a novel setup allowing for the simultaneous detection of all three naturally occurring carbon isotopes (12C, 13C, 14C) in carbonate samples such as stalagmites. Laser ablation (LA) is a routinely used sample introduction method e.g. for inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Only recently, LA has for the first time been coupled to an accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) by two ETH Zurich research groups for high spatially resolved online 14C measurements. The main goal of this PhD project is to establish a novel measurement technique by (i) coupling the existing LA unit with the IRMS for stand-alone online stable C isotope analysis, (ii) combining LA-IRMS and LA-AMS for combined 14C and stable C isotope measurements and (iii) demonstrating the potential of the novel technique by applying it to stalagmite samples.

The successful candidate will mainly work in the Biogeoscience Group (D-ERDW) in close collaboration with the Laboratory of Ion Beam Physics (D-PHYS) and the Group for Trace Element and Micro Analysis (D-CHAB). We seek to fill the PhD student position in the course of 2019.

We are looking for highly motivated candidates with the ability to take an interdisciplinary perspective. The candidate should fulfil the following requirements: (1) Strong background in either environmental physics, paleoclimate research or related fields. (2) Experience in mass spectrometry or other analytical techniques is an advantage. (3) Sufficient fluency in English. (4) A master’s degree (or equivalent) in (environmental) physics, chemistry, earth sciences or related areas.

We look forward to receiving your application including the following documents: CV, a letter of motivation and the master thesis as well as other relevant scientific output (reports, posters, published papers or preprints). Please send your application to

For further information about our research, please visit our websites: , and Questions regarding the position should be directed to Dr. Caroline Welte by email:

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