Physical Sciences

Research Areas

Theoretical physics (Postdoctoral fellowships only)

Specifically encompassing theoretical work in the areas of: magnetism, superconductivity, quantum fluids, lasers, plasmas, atomic, molecular and optical physics, surfaces and interfaces, and soft condensed matter physics.

Graphene and Carbon-based nanomaterials (Early Career fellowships only)

The synthesis, characterisation and theoretical understanding of graphene, carbon nanotubes and other carbon based nanomaterials. This area includes understanding the fundamental properties of carbon nanomaterials, development of new growth methods, understanding the influence of defects on properties and exploring possibilities for nanoscale carbon electronics. This area does not include device fabrication, carbon composite materials or materials processing as these are covered in related research areas. Priority to connect with Challenge themes.

Software development for novel Physical sciences research (Early Career fellowships only)

As EPSRC invests in the next generation of high performance computing both at national and regional levels, it is essential that our researchers are able to use this provision to its maximum capability in order to undertake excellent research by having software that is of high quality and is reliable and sustainable. We are looking to appoint fellows who have some experience of using and developing software in their chosen field and are looking to widen the use and usability of this software in order to undertake high quality research in Physical sciences. Innovative approaches to this development, and collaboration nationally, internationally and across disciplines is welcomed.

Novelty must be demonstrated in both software development and in the research that will be enabled, which must be within the remit of Physical sciences. We are looking for applications which demonstrate excellent awareness of the impact of software development in the applicant’s research area and further afield. The applicant needs to demonstrate the ability to lead the strategy for the development of the chosen software strand and to engage with leaders in the research field(s) who are both users and potential users of high end computing.

Catalysis (Early Career and Established Career fellowships only)

Structural and kinetic studies to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in catalytic reactions, preparation of novel or improved catalysts.

Quantum optics and information (Early Career and Established Career fellowships only)

Quantum information processing; quantum metrology; quantum error correction; quantum optics; cavity quantum electrodynamics and quantum state characterisation.

It covers theory and experiment into quantum mechanics.

Next generation quantum technologies will rely on our understanding and exploitation of coherence and entanglement. Utilising properties beyond the classical limit will transform metrology, communication, imaging, the simulation of complex systems, and ultimately computing. Success requires a deeper understanding of quantum physics and a broad ranging development of the enabling tools and technologies.

Physical sciences Grand Challenges (Early Career and Established Career fellowships only)

To help address the identified Physical sciences grand challenge areas we are inviting applications for fellowships. It will need to be made clear how the research would address the challenge particularly in relation to other relevant activity and what role the individual will play help to lead/push the Grand Challenge approach forward. Where new networks are key to addressing this challenge the leadership role of the fellow in helping to develop and building these will need to be outlined. Please read the FAQs before submitting your application.

The Physics Grand Challenges are:

Analytical science (Early Career and Established Career fellowships only)

EPSRC would like to encourage Early and Established Career Fellowships in Analytical Science. This research area covers the development of novel techniques and thee novel application of existing techniques in analysis across the physical science remit.

Chemical Biology and Biological Chemistry (Early Career and Established Career fellowships only)

EPSRC would like to encourage Early and Established Career Fellowships in Chemical Biology and Biological Chemistry. This research area covers the application of chemical techniques for the understanding of biological processes and the synthesis of biologically active and biological molecules. It also covers biomimetic chemistry, including producing simplified chemical models of complex biological systems.

Computational and Theoretical Chemistry (Early Career fellowships only)

EPSRC would like to encourage Early Career Fellowships in Computational and Theoretical chemistry. Computational and Theoretical chemistry involves the study of chemical structure, bonding and reactivity in chemical systems using mathematical and computational methods and also the development of such methods.

Electrochemical Sciences (Early Career fellowships only)

EPSRC would like to encourage Early Career Fellowships in Electrochemical Sciences. Electrochemical Sciences covers research into the study of chemical phenomena associated with charge separation and charge transfer including electron transfer theory, elucidation of electrochemical reaction rates and mechanisms, and the study of the role of electron in advanced materials. This area also includes the development of novel electrodes and electrolytes.

Functional Ceramics and Inorganics (Early Career fellowships only)

Functional ceramic and inorganic materials have diverse applications in areas important for tackling key technological and societal challenges including energy and electronics and for advancing growth and economic development. The research community is buoyant, but we need to ensure that we are encouraging the development and support for new research leaders.

Synthetic Supramolecular Chemistry (Early Career fellowships only)

EPSRC would like to encourage Early Career Fellowships in Synthetic Supramolecular Chemistry. This research area covers the study of the design and synthesis of chemical systems using molecular self-assembly and molecular recognition. This includes the synthesis of host-guest complexes, supramolecular clusters and mechanically interlocked molecular architectures.

Cold Atoms and Molecules (Established Career fellowships only)

In order to ensure that the UK continues to contribute at an international level in this area, EPSRC encourages Established Career fellowships for research, where the individual already has, or has access to, established research infrastructure.

EPSRC Cold atoms and molecules includes theoretical and experimental studies of properties and applications of Bose-Einstein condensates and Fermi gases, as well as methods for cooling atomic and molecular species to sub-millikelvin temperatures.

Soft Matter Physics (Established Career fellowships only)

EPSRC would like to encourage established career fellowships in soft matter physics.

Fellowships are also available in soft matter physics at the early career stage where relevance to the Physical sciences grand challenges can be demonstrated or at the Print and Digital Research Forum stage for theoretical and computational research.

Materials for Energy Applications (Early Career fellowships only)

Research into the synthesis, characterisation and theoretical understanding of materials for energy applications is essential to the overall Research Councils UK (RCUK) Energy strategy.

The recent  RCUK Review of Energy and European Science Foundation (ESF) Materials Science and Engineering Expert Committee report into Materials for Key Enabling Technologies (PDF 5.9MB) highlight the importance of underpinning materials research in order to progress technologies to address the energy agenda. The UK materials research community in this area is buoyant and new academic staff are being recruited. UK industry is also involved: according to the RCUK Review of Energy the UK is internationally leading in the areas of third generation photovoltaics, fuel cells, and lithium energy storage, areas which rely on high quality materials research. Companies such as Nexeon, Oxsys, Ceres Power and Rolls Royce all have interests in this area so the academic research base provides a strong foundation for their continued development. There will also be opportunities presented by challenges such as decarbonising the energy grid and improving systems for carbon dioxide (CO2) capture. Materials research will be key to achieving these goals.

The UK is world-class in materials research. In order to maintain this status we need to ensure the supply of young research leaders. The RCUK priorities for energy research (which include securing energy supply; low carbon innovation; and reducing energy consumption) offer particular opportunities. However there is also scope for speculative research in the physical sciences aimed at new disruptive technologies.

As the Energy challenge theme recognises, building capacity through the support of early career researchers to support innovative research and develop leadership potential is an important component of the strategy. We will echo that by supporting early career fellowships in this research area. In providing support we will be looking for individuals who not only have the potential to become research leaders in their own right, but who are also bringing innovative materials science to bear on the challenges identified by the Energy theme.

Alongside the input detailed in the Physical sciences: Our approach page, direct communications with individual researchers nominated by the Institute of Physics and Royal Society of Chemistry have provided additional information on this research area.