Postdoctoral Positions at the MSC

Last Updated on 04/07/08


We have an immediate opening for postdoctoral scholars in the area of modeling of condensed phase energetic materials (EM) and nanocomposites using large-scale molecular dynamics simulations with reactive force fields and first-principles (QM/DFT) calculations of such materials at extreme conditions. Energetic materials are molecular crystals composed of medium-sized polyatomic molecules (RDX, HMX, PETN, TATB). Specific problems of interest include shock-induced plasticity, chemical reactions, and transition to detonation, as well as thermal decomposition and combustion of EM and EM-composites (e.g. polymer-bonded EM, metal/EM propellants). Also of interest are simulations of surfaces, interfaces, defects, and grain boundaries in EM, and calculations of the elastic properties, stress-strain relations and phase transitions in EM under anisotropic deformations. The work is part of a larger effort to use atomistic simulations to provide the fundamental understanding of atomistic mechanisms of initiation and propagation of chemical reactions and hot spot formation in EM, as well as influence of their thermal, mechanical, and electronic properties on the sensitivity of EM to dynamic or thermal loading.

The candidate will work in the group of Prof. William A. Goddard III at Caltech and collaborate with academic, DoD and DoE researchers with an excellent opporunity to gain broad experience and exposure within the materials modeling community.

REQUIREMENTS: A Ph.D. in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, Mechanical Engineering, or a related area, and expertise in the development and application of atomistic simulation methods (MD, MC, or DFT) for the materials and/or molecular modeling.
DESIRED: Experience with large-scale MD simulations, high-performance computing, first-principles methods, calculations of reaction pathways, and/or mesoscale/continuum modeling would be a plus.

For technical questions, contact Dr. Sergey Zybin (, phone: (626) 395-8134.
Interested candidates should send a cover letter and a resume (including a list of publications) with the names of three references to Prof. William A. Goddard III ( and Dr. Sergey Zybin.

In addition, Prof. William A. Goddard III (Ferkel Professor of Chemistry and Applied Physics at Caltech) is seeking outstanding applicants for several postdoctoral positions each of which could start immediately. This research is to be carried out at the Materials and Process Simulation Center  (MSC) at Caltech, directed by Prof. Goddard. The MSC focuses on developing new methods for Quantum Chemistry and Molecular Dynamics and on applying these methods to solve industrial problems in materials and processes.

Each position involves a collaboration with industry or government laboratories with a strong focus on the applications.

Specific current projects requiring new personnel include:

Method Development
Materials and Nanotechnology
Petroleum Energy and Envrionmental Research Qualified candidates are expected to have demonstrated capabilities in several of the following areas: Expertise and familiarity using standard codes for QC and MD level simulations is essential.

Qualified applicants should send:

  1. CV with contact information and list of publications
  2. List of personal references familiar with your background and accomplishments (include phone numbers, fax numbers, and e-mail addresses)
  3. One paragraph description of how your background is appropriate for our projects
  4. Two paragraph description of your career goals and how this position would be consistent with your goals.
These materials should be sent via e-mail to Microsoft Word attachments are acceptable.

Salary is commensurate with demonstrated capabilities and experience. Caltech offers an attractive benefits package and a comfortable living environment in the San Gabriel Valley near Los Angeles. Caltech is an equal opportunity employer.