Advert. No. 2017_0038
Working at ESO

Are you interested in working in areas of frontline technology and in a stimulating international environment? Do you feel your profile matches our requirements? Learn more about our current vacancies and apply online. Read more..

The European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive ground-based astronomical observatory. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in northern Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor (home to ALMA and APEX), and the ESO Headquarters are located in Garching, near Munich, Germany. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky" and whose operations will be fully integrated into the Paranal Observatory.

For its Maintenance, Support and Engineering Departmentat the Paranal Observatory in Chile, ESO is opening an international staff member position of

Optical Coating Engineer/Technician


Vacancy closed on 10/09/2017

Deadline 10/09/2017

The Paranal Observatory in northern Chile is one of the largest facilities used in astronomy. Numerous telescopes are operated at the observatory: the four 8.2-m UTs with their series of instruments, the survey telescopes VISTA and VST, and the interferometer with its four movable 1.8-m (ATs) telescopes which span baselines between 8 and 202 m.The Paranal Observatory is a large and complex facility involving most advanced technologies in the areas of optics, precision mechanics, electronics, cryogenics, detector and software.

  • Is responsible for Project Management, System analysis and performance assessment, 'Maintien en Condition Operationnelle' (MCO) of all Telescope Mirrors
  • Supports Instrumentation group for coating and optics and all technical groups for system analysis and performance assessment

The System & Optics group is in charge of maintaining in operation all the telescope mirrors, supporting all groups for coating and optics, and of system analysis and performance assessment of the Observatory sub-systems in order to provide a reliable and optimized system to scientific observations. The System and Optics Group, within the Maintenance, Support and Engineering Department of the La Silla Paranal Observatory (LPO):

Main Duties and Responsibilities:

The selected candidate will work as Optical coating Engineer / Senior Technician within the System and Optics Group, and under supervision of the Paranal/ELT coating system engineer.

S/he will be fully dedicated to the VISTA coating unit with the main following tasks:

  • Complete the upgrade tasks of the machine, focused on the capabilities of reactive sputtering
  • Perform all the functional tests to demonstrate that the coater is operational
  • Prepare the documentation for a Test and Qualification Plan for a protected-silver coating for applications like the several mirrors of the VLTI trains and a demonstration for the ELT Project .
  • Perform the testing campaign, adjust coating parameters to reach specifications: first on float glass, then on optical glass samples (Zerodur or equivalent)
  • Contact external laboratories if deemed necessary for the qualification of the coating recipe (in Chile or Europe)
  • Prepare test samples for exposition to the local ambient environment
  • Prepare regular progress reports and a final Qualification report for the selected silver stack.

The VISTA coating unit is a 5m diameter bell-jar type sputter coater equipped with 3 or 4 magnetrons and an ion source, located in the Auxiliary Building of the VISTA telescope, in a clean area. We need to finalize a set of upgrades to perform reactive sputtering. The selected candidate will have the help of the mechanical, electronic and optics group and mechanical workshop on a case by case basis, but s/he shall work mainly independently, with the support of the ELT coating engineer.

Reports to:

The selected candidate will report hierarchically to the System and Optics Group Leader and functionally to the ELT coating system engineer.


The ideal candidate has working experience:

  • A preliminary experience in industry, astronomical observatory or university laboratory, performing optical coatings (metallic and dielectric) and their qualification.
  • Operating sputtering coating systems, and developing coating processes.
  • Designing and analyzing multilayer thin-film coatings (using TFcalc or equivalent for example).

Key Competences:

  • At least a preliminary experience with sputtering deposition technology and equipment, and troubleshooting.
  • Some knowledge in the use of TFCalc or other optical layer design software for design and analysis purpose.
  • Understanding the use and calibration of optical measurement devices (reflectometers, spectrophotometers, ellipsometers, ...) and thin optical layer thickness measurement devices (optical and mechanical.
  • With some knowledge of vacuum technology and equipment .
  • Knowledge of coating process control software and hardware, testing and quality control of coated parts.
  • Knowledge of optical surface cleaning before coating; might need as well to uncoat samples by chemical process .
  • Knowledge in accelerated aging tests for optical coatings.
  • Proficient in the use of desktop software (Microsoft Office).
  • Be able to work with some independence and with a good self-organization; time management skills and good interpersonal communications are essential; ability and willingness to work in a multi-cultural and multi-national environment .
  • Be able to work in remote areas .
  • Good communication skills.


A technical degree in the fields of physics, processes or and engineering field (optics/mechanics, electronics, materials), with proven experience in coating processes.

Language Skills:

  • Working language is English and a very good knowledge of spoken and written English is necessary. The position requires accurate understanding of existing documents, and writing of documents (procedures, reports).
  • Knowledge of Spanish or willingness to learn is an asset.

Remuneration and Contract:

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary (tax free), comprehensive pension scheme and medical, educational and other social benefits, as well as financial support in relocating your family, the possibility to place your child/children in daycare. The initial contract is for a period of one year with the possibility of a fixed-term extension of 6 months.

Duty Station:

The position will be based at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The working schedule will be 8 days on duty followed by a 6 days rest period (8/6) with accommodation provided on site.

Career Path:



If you are interested in working in areas of frontline technology and in a stimulating international environment, please visit (<>) for further details. Applicants are invited to apply online at <>. Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter and CV.

Closing date for applications is 18 August 2017

Recruitment preference will be given to nationals of: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom, however, no nationality is in principle excluded.

The post is equally open to suitably qualified female and male applicants

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