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Autonomous robots for computationally-guided materials discovery

   Department of Chemistry

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  Prof A I Cooper  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This opportunity will remain open until the position has been filled and so early applications are encouraged.

A fully funded PhD studentship is available in the area of automation/robotics in a chemical laboratory, as part of a prestigious international Synergy Grant, funded by the European Research Council. The project, ‘Autonomous Discovery of Advanced Materials’ (ADAM), aims to revolutionise the way that new materials are discovered by combining computational simulations, robotics, and materials synthesis.

In this project, you will develop new automated/robotic methods to make organic materials and their molecular building blocks. The ADAM team comprises researchers with expertise in chemistry, robotics, machine learning, computational chemistry, and robotics. Computational methods are developing rapidly in this area, and crystal structure prediction methods developed by partners at the University of Southampton will be used to assess candidate molecules for their likely crystal packing and resulting materials properties. This studentship will focus on developing automated robotic methods to access the most promising building blocks that are suggested by these computational predictions.

The project will be based both in the materials discovery research group led by Prof. Andy Cooper ( The project will also have access to unique facilities in the state-of-the-art Materials Innovation Factory at the University of Liverpool ( You will be part of a multi-disciplinary team that includes collaborators at the University of Southampton and Rostock University. Through these collaborations, you will interact with computational chemists, synthetic chemists, and also engineers and computer scientists developing the use of robots in the materials chemistry laboratory.

We are looking for candidates with an enthusiasm for research, multidisciplinary collaboration and tackling challenging problems through teamwork. We are targetting candidates with an MSc in Computer Science/Robotics/AI, but we would also consider exceptional Physical Science students providing that they have appropriate Computer Science skills. Research interests should be in reinforcement learning, self-supervised learning, and/or skill learning. Ideal skills would include: programming (C/C++/Python/Java), middleware (ROS), ML frameworks (PyTorch/Tensorflow/Jax), knowledge of git.

You do not need to have strong background in chemistry, but willingness to learn basic concepts, ontologies, and definitions is a requirement.

The position is available from 1st October 2022.

Entry Requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a good degree (equivalent to a UK First or Upper Second Class degree) in Computer Science/Robotics/AI or other relevant discipline.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Andy Cooper (email: [Email Address Removed]

To apply for this opportunity please visit and click on the 'Ready to apply? Apply online' button. Please include Curriculum Vitae, Two reference letters, Degree Transcripts to date. Please ensure you quote the following reference on your application: Reference CCPR039 - Autonomous robots for computationally-guided materials discovery

Funding Notes

The award will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years. The maintenance grant will be at the UKRI rate, currently £15,609.00 per annum for 2021-22, subject to possible increase . The award will pay full home tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years. Non-UK applicants may have to contribute to the higher non-UK tuition fees.
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