Postdoctoral Researcher in the Robotic Discovery of Hybrid Solar Fuels Catalysts Grade 7

Postdoctoral Researcher in the Robotic Discovery of Hybrid Solar Fuels Catalysts Grade 7

University of Liverpool - Department of Chemistry

Liverpool, United Kingdom


We are looking to recruit a Postdoctoral Researcher with a background in inorganic materials synthesis to  join the Leverhulme Centre for Functional Materials Design, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. This Centre is one of only four such centres funded in the UK and brings together chemical knowledge with state-of-theart computer science and automated technologies, such as robotics, with the aim of revolutionising the design of functional materials at the atomic scale.


This post will focus on the design, synthesis, and evaluation of catalytic activity for new photocatalysts for overall water splitting, using unique robotic platforms to search a broad structure-property space. You will also use (and subject to skills and background, develop) artificial intelligence and machine learning methods to guide this search. For this particular post we see an applicant with a background in inorganic materials, although our goal is to build unique hybrid photocatalysts. For one relevant example of the type of chemistry involved, see: Y. Goto et al., Joule, 2018, 2, 509-520). The necessary expertise in organic materials needed to produce hybrid photocatalysts is already present in our team, and organic expertise is not a requirement for this particular position.

You will be expected to perform research at internationally leading level and to interact with researchers in the other themes. This is not a standalone research project, but rather it is part of a 10-year research centre with the ambitious aim of fundamentally transforming our capability to discover new functional materials. As such, we are particularly seeking researchers in solid state materials chemistry and (ideally) photocatalysis who will interact strongly with other researchers across the themes in the Centre. Of particular importance for this post are the following two areas:

  • Automation and robotics for the discovery of new photocatalysts. This will involve close collaboration with the Automation Theme Lead (post currently advertised) and with Dr John Ward (Organic Materials Theme Lead), as well as Dr Mike Egan in the Materials Innovation Factory;
  • Development of algorithms for efficiently searching the structure-property space. This will involve collaboration with Dr Vladimir Gusev, the Algorithms Theme Lead, and potentially external collaborators within the LRC.

You will have a PhD in Chemistry or possibly Materials Science or Physics (subject to practical experience). An excellent publication record (as assessed for your career stage) is essential for this position. Only excellent, ambitious candidates with relevant skills and high levels of achievement are sought. The ability to work within a team, to communicate across disciplines and to support other researchers is also essential, and we will seek examples of this at interview.

The level of research performed will make this post particularly suitable for those seeking an independent academic career in the future, though the skills learned (e.g., in robots and automation) will be highly attractive to industry, too. It is important to note that these roles have a broad scope and that many skills sets could be relevant. We are therefore seeking to recruit a complementary team that will allow the centre to succeed, rather than to fill a narrow list of technical requirements. Your application should set out how your skills, experience, career ambition, and capabilities will contribute to the success of the centre at all levels – we seek candidates with an independent vision Supervisory responsibility:

You will help to advise PhD students within the Centre take part in discussions to agree targets for their work, and supervise their day-to-day activity.

Supervision received:

Reporting to the Director of the Centre, Prof. Andrew Cooper FRS. The expertise of all the centre investigators is available to you for discussion and collaboration in order to progress the research.

Range of decision making:

You will work on the highest priority opportunities and apply your research expertise to them. You will be responsible for day-to-day decisions; e.g., planning workflows to maximise research throughput, communicating effectively with other researchers in the Leverhulme Centre; getting equipment constructed or modified to suit this project; interacting with commercial suppliers of robotics or other scientific equipment. It is expected that you will be an innovative individual with an interest in applying your research skills to a challenging project – this will require daily decision making in terms of determining the best approaches to solve a particular research problem. There will be a responsibility to liaise with academic staff, postdoctoral research workers, and research students. There is a specific requirement to work closely with other researchers with different skills to yours.

Person Specification


Essential Criteria

  • Skills and experience in the first area, (a), and at least two of the other areas, (b)–(e):
    • Inorganic materials synthesis and characterization (ideally, but not essentially, in the area of photocatalysts for water splitting);
    • Broad knowledge of solid inorganic materials synthesis methods (multiple techniques/materials classes; see (5), below);
    • Powder X-ray diffraction;
    • Design of experiments/machine learning;
    • Robotics or other automation techniques.
  • Excellent publication record for career stage;
  • Research experience in inorganic materials chemistry.

Desirable Criteria

Experience in any of the following:

  • Hands-on experience with photocatalytic water splitting tests;
  • Experience in programming (e.g., in Python, Java, etc.);
  • Property measurements for functional materials;
  • Dye sensitization;
  • Advanced X-ray methods;
  • Microscopy (especially TEM);
  • Metal/metal oxide nanoparticle co-catalysts;
  • Demonstrated commitment to developing collaborative research;
  • Experience of supervising or co-supervising PhD students;
  • Postdoctoral experience in inorganic materials chemistry;
  • Research experience in photocatalysis;
  • Postdoctoral experience in photocatalysis.


Essential Criteria

  • PhD in Chemistry.


Essential Criteria

  • Excellent technical competence and knowledge of Chemistry in areas including, but not restricted to:
    • Inorganic solid-state synthesis methods, such as high temperature ceramic methods, combustion methods, precursor methods, flux methods);
    • Co-catalyst doping (e.g., by incipient wetness methods);
    • Classical factorial design of experiments;
    • Other techniques for multivariate experimental design/Bayesian optimization;
    • Advanced material characterisation;
    • Computational chemistry.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills;
  • Evidence of creativity in research (problem solving or trouble shooting);
  • Excellent laboratory skills (preparative and analytical);
  • Excellent software skills;
  • Clear report writing, presentation and communication skills;
  • Demonstrated ability to take ownership and responsibility for projects;
  • Some experience in in supervision Ph.D. or project students.

Desirable Criteria

  • Knowledge of machine learning and artificial intelligence;
  • Ability to refine PXRD data and to solve structures (e.g., by Rietveld refinement);
  • Compositional analysis (e.g., by ICP or by microscopy/EDX);
  • Morphological analysis (e.g., by SEM/TEM);
  • Experience with robotics and automation;
  • The ability to develop and write code;
  • Project management skills;
  • Experience in contributing to grant proposals;
  • Proven experience in supervision/co-supervision of Ph.D. or project students.


Essential Criteria

  • Demonstrated ability to work as a member of a team;
  • Demonstrated ability to work proactively to progress research projects and to go beyond ‘the norm’;
  • Ability to work to deadlines, manage competing research priorities and to meet agreed targets;
  • Ability to manage own workload;
  • Experience in collaborating with other partners.

Desirable Criteria

  • Ability to take responsibility for projects and to manage own workload and that of others;
  • Proven track record at building and maintaining effective professional networks with multiple external partners and stakeholder groups.

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EuroJobsites is a UK registered company number: 4694396 VAT number: GB 880 9055 04

Registered address: EuroJobsites Ltd, Unit 8, Kingsmill Business Park, Kingston Upon Thames, London, KT1 3GZ, United Kingdom

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