PhD position in Theoretical Physics

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


July 11, 2021


PhD position in Theoretical Physics

(ref. BAP-2021-458)

Last modification : Friday, June 4, 2021

KU Leuven Kulak's Science & Technology group provides education in a wide range of undergraduate science programs (as well as transition options to (bio-)engineering and pharmacy), while also making the link to contemporary research. Within the S&T Kulak group, the research group "(Quantum) Gauge Theories" focusses on Quantum Chromodynamics and Classical Electrodynamics. This takes us from the smallest nuclear building blocks to model building for non-destructive monitoring in geophysics.

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We will investigate the formation of the QCD flux tube (confining string) between 2 static charges (quark and anti-quark) in terms of the Casimir force. The latter is a famous consequence of the non-emptiness of the quantum vacuum, with experimental verification in the QED, aka quantum electrodynamics, case: 2 parallel (uncharged) plates undergo a net force due to the quantized electromagnetic field. In the case of QCD, aka quantum chromodynamics, which handles the strong nuclear (color) force, the Casimir force is far less understood. Our working hypothesis is that in the non- perturbative QCD vacuum, the Casimir effect favours the formation of an energetically stable 3D cylinder-shape between the boundary charges, embedded in the normal vacuum. Inspiration is drawn from the "old" nucleonic bag models. We will develop our new methodology for the non-Abelian gauge theory in (2+1)-dimensions, where the cylinder becomes a rectangle, making the computations somewhat easier. A first novelty in our approach will come from QCD vacuum effects encoded by a non-perturbative path integration scheme, viz. the Gribov-Zwanziger approach. The associated mass gap equation will have an interesting interplay with the geometric cylinder/rectangle parameters and thence can drive the tube formation. A second novelty will be the inclusion of boundary charges in a gauge invariant fashion via non-local, dressed field configurations. Finally, we will probe the melting properties of the tube if the temperature is switched on, in search of a fresh perspective on the deconfinement phase transition.

This internationally oriented PhD project will happen in close collaboration with colleagues from Universitá di Napoli Federico II (Italië), Centro de Estudios Científicos (CECs, Valdivia, Chili) en Duy Tân University (Da Nang, Vietnam).

Next to the research activities, the candidate will also become part of the assisting educational team in the Bachelor programmes of campus Kulak (Kortrijk).

  • The successful candidate must hold a (recent) Master's degree in Physics, Mathematics or Engineering Sciences, with a strong focus on theoretical physics. You have obtained excellent study results. A solid background in quantum field theory is a must.
  • You have fluent written and oral Dutch and/or English language skills.
  • You have experience with and/or a strong interest in teaching to (engineering) science students.
  • You can work independently and collaborate well in an international team.
  • We are looking forward to your application, motivational letter and CV.
  • Offer

    We offer a full-time employment as a PhD fellow in the Science & Technology Group Kulak for 1 year, with possibility of extension up to 4 years to eventually obtain a PhD.


    For more information please contact Prof. dr. David Dudal, tel.: +32 56 24 64 93, mail: or Prof. dr. Koen Van Den Abeele, tel.: +32 56 24 62 56, mail:

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