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Senior Research Fellow

Centre for Electronics Frontiers

Location:  Highfield Campus
Salary:   £39,152 to £44,045 per annum
Full Time Fixed Term (2 years)
Closing Date:  Monday 15 March 2021
Interview Date:   Wednesday 24 March 2021
Reference:  1325721PN

This position is affiliated with an EPSRC New Investigator Award held by Dr. Alexander Serb. You will play the part of hardware technical lead in this 3-year project, which seeks to build an accelerator for symbolic Artificial Intelligence (AI) based on knowledge graphs. The project will involve development of a complete integrated circuit including a knowledge graph memory and an unconventional microprocessor to manipulate the data within this memory as well as run small programmes using entries from this memory. This will be connected to a machine learning front-end for allowing it to interact with the outside world. The project seeks to create ultra-efficient, explainable, rules-based AI that will allow highly capable AI systems to run privately on phones and computers without having to rely on cloud services.

  • The project is centred around IC design and is heavily connected to: AI, machine learning (ML), memristive technologies and mathematics. It is a great opportunity if you wish to expand your knowledge in any of these directions.
  • Spending a certain amount of time on personal initiatives is encouraged, especially if these align with the overall direction of travel of the project.
  • You will work with the Principal Investigator (PI) on developing new grant applications, publish and take on mentorship of PhD students – this is a position designed to develop you for a leadership career either in academia or industry.
  • The project specifically seeks to develop all aspects (circuit design, control software, documentation, etc.) to an industrial grade, and to demonstrate the technique on real-world problems such as image recognition. A desired outcome of this project is commercial exploitation via a start-up, hence commercial/industrial experience would be advantageous.
  • Working schedules are flexible and fully goal-driven.

The main technical task for this post is running full IC design cycles including: i) schematics design, ii) layout, iii) simulation (including post-layout), iv) tape-out, v) test bench design and vi) testing and assessment. Side tasks that are expected to be lead by other team members will include: a) software development for testing automation, b) algorithm development for demonstration on the new hardware, c) integration with ML front-end. You will play an active role in all of the latter, but need not lead them. 

The Centre for Electronics Frontiers (CEF) at the University of Southampton is a dynamic interdisciplinary Centre that delivers novel solutions for advanced sensory systems, energy technologies and unconventional computing architectures. Our team encompasses diverse expertise ranging from materials process development to electronic devices, circuits and systems. This knowledge combined with our state-of-art facilities and strong collaborations with industry enables us to off­er unique solutions to real-world problems. Our ambition is to push the frontiers of electronics through emerging nanotechnologies, disrupting current ways of thinking by innovating advanced energy-efficient Hardware solutions for AI. 

It is essential you have a PhD or equivalent professional qualifications and experience in integrated circuit design and a detailed understanding and knowledge of mixed signal design.

This position is full time fixed term for 2 years.

Ideally, you will have an MEng/MSc in Electronics or a closely related subject along with 

  1. Fluent in carrying out end-to-end mixed mode circuit design and testing.
  2. Fluent in IC design CAD tool use.
  3. Fluent in test bench design (hardware, programming and execution).
  4. Solid base in embedded system design.
  5. Solid base in programming in: (C or Verilog) and Python.
  6. Solid base in understanding the basics of Artificial Intelligence (AI)/ Machine Learning (ML).
  7. Knowledge graphs
  8. In-memory computing
  9. In silico Machine learning
  10. memristive technologies (ideally metal-oxide RRAM)

Ability to travel both within the United Kingdom and abroad to conduct research, visit collaborators, and attend conferences.

Further information can be obtained from Dr. Alexander Serb at email address:

Equality, diversity and Inclusion is central to the ethos in the Zepler Institute. We particularly encourage women, Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME), LGBT and disabled applicants to apply for this position.  We value diversity and inclusion at the University and aspire for our staff population to be broadly representative of our community.   In recognition of our continued commitment to improving equality for women in science we were awarded an Athena SWAN Bronze.   We gives full consideration to applicants that wish to work flexibly including part-time and due consideration will be given to applicants who have taken a career break. The University has a generous maternity policy*, onsite childcare facilities along with other benefits such as the cycle to work scheme.

 The University of Southampton is in the top 1% of world universities and in the top 10 of the UK’s research-intensive universities. The University of Southampton is committed to sustainability and being a globally responsible university and has recently been awarded the Platinum EcoAward.  Our vision is to embed the principles of sustainability into all aspects of our individual and collective work, integrating sustainable development into our business planning, policy-making, and professional activities.  This commits all of our staff and students to take responsibility for managing their activities to minimise harm to the environment, whether this through switching off non-essential electrical equipment or using the recycling facilities.

 *subject to qualifying criteria

Application Procedure 

You should submit your completed online application form at The application deadline will be midnight on the closing date stated above. If you need any assistance, please call Kate Pounds (Recruitment Team) on +44 (0) 23 8059 5456 or email  Please quote reference 1325721PN on all correspondence. 


Further details:

We aim to be an equal opportunities employer and welcome applications from all sections of the community. Please note that applications from agencies will not be accepted unless indicated in the job advert.

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