High-throughput discovery of new materials as functional coatings on glass for net-zero applications


This studentship will develop and implement a high-throughput magnetron sputtering workflow for optoelectronic materials discovery as thin film coatings on glass. The functionalisation of glass and glazing with coatings is at the forefront of technological advances in the transition to net-zero, such as energy saving glazing, display technologies and grid-scale photovoltaic devices. To maintain the pace of advancements in these technologies, and to open up new opportunities and markets, new materials with superior optical and electronic properties are required as thin films. Arrays of compositionally variable samples will be deposited onto substrates for automated powder X-ray diffraction and further property measurements, building on our existing workflows for array deposition and diffraction measurement of films. The project will involve the design and engineering implementation of automated measurements, e.g. sheet resistance, optical transmission, ellipsometry, on the sample arrays, and associated digital tools for data analysis at scale. The group has a track record of developing and implementing high throughput workflows for materials discovery [1-3] and in thin film optoelectronic materials [4] and this project builds on that expertise. This project is sponsored by NSG/Pilkington, a global glass manufacturing company with a leading position in coated glass products.

You will acquire expertise in thin film synthesis, high-throughput and automated materials characterisation including equipment design and construction, and in design of experiments and statistical data analysis, benefiting from the academic and industrial supervision, including materials design using machine learning tools already available to the project team. You will be required to utilise skills in method development along with problem solving, teamwork and presentation skills. You will have the opportunity to work at international synchrotron X-ray facilities as well as spending time and using the facilities at the NSG Technical Centre near Ormskirk, Lancashire. The project will impact thin film inorganic materials discovery in general because the workflow is applicable to applications beyond coatings on glass. Owing to the multi-faceted nature of this dynamic project, you will work closely with computer scientists, inorganic chemists, physicists, engineers, and material scientists to discover new materials for a variety of applications.

The student recruited to this project will also be part of a wider cohort-training programme focused on the application of digital methods (data and physics based, robotics and automation) to materials chemistry and will be based in the Materials Innovation Factory at Liverpool.

Please apply by completing the online postgraduate research application form here: How to apply for a PhD - University of Liverpool.

Please ensure you include the project title and reference number CCPR123 when applying.

Applicants are advised to apply as soon as possible with applications considered when received and no later than 30/06/2024. A 2i or higher degree or Masters in chemistry, physics, engineering or materials science is required.

We want all of our staff and Students to feel that Liverpool is an inclusive and welcoming environment that actively celebrates and encourages diversity. We are committed to working with students to make all reasonable project adaptations including supporting those with caring responsibilities, disabilities or other personal circumstances. For example, if you have a disability you may be entitled to a Disabled Students Allowance on top of your studentship to help cover the costs of any additional support that a person studying for a doctorate might need as a result.


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

The EPSRC funded Studentship will cover full tuition fees of £4,786 per year and pay a maintenance grant for 4 years, starting at the UKRI minimum of £19,237 pa. for 2024-2025. The Studentship also comes with access to additional funding in the form of a research training support grant which is available to fund conference attendance, fieldwork, internships etc.

EPSRC Studentships are available to any prospective student wishing to apply including international students. Up to 30% of our cohort can comprise of international students and they will not be charged the fee difference between UK and international rate.



  1. Hampson et al., A high throughput synthetic workflow for solid state synthesis of oxides, Chem. Sci., 2024, 15, 2640-2647
  2. Quayle et al., A proxy for oxygen storage capacity from high-throughput screening and automated data analysis, Sci., 2023, 14, 12621-12636
  3. Boldrin et al., Proxy-based accelerated discovery of Fischer–Tropsch catalysts, Chem. Sci., 2015, 6, 935-944Stoner et al., Chemical Control of Correlated Metals as Transparent Conductors, Adv. Functional Mater., 2019, 1808609.