In the context of the METASPIN project we are offering one or more:

PhD Position – Continual Learning with Metaplastic Neural Networks and Nanodevices


The Peter Grünberg Institute - Neuromorphic Software Ecosystems (PGI-15) led by Prof. Dr. Emre Neftci explores neuromorphic computing technologies that learn and work like the brain. PGI-15 research aims to design computing algorithms and architectures from the perspective of neuroscience and physical realizations in dedicated circuits and devices. Applications of our research are targeted to improve computing in many areas, including computer vision, autonomous control, data processing in mobile and wearable devices, and (neuro-)scientific data analysis. A new European project, METASPIN, envisions a radically new low-power artificial synapse technology based on spintronic nanodevices that will prevent catastrophic forgetting, i.e. the loss of memory of previously learned tasks upon learning new ones. This project will develop a new class of device that will use magneto-ionics to support synaptic metaplasticity, i.e. a feature inspired by the human brain based on assigning a ‘hidden value’ encoding its important to the task. This value will affect how ‘plastic’ synaptic state is, giving a hierarchy to previously learned information and thus preventing catastrophic forgetting. The ultimate goal of this project is to integrate this advanced synaptic technology and learning algorithms into an ANN demonstrator to test. This project is in collaboration with Université Paris-Saclay and the University of Zürich.

Institute issuing the offer
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Your Job:

  • Devise a theory of probabilistic continual learning and metaplasticity
  • Create a software model incorporating metaplastic nanodevice behavior models (Pytorch or equivalent)
  • Develop continual learning benchmarks and evaluate the model and theory on meta-plastic binary neural networks
  • Support the dissemination of software tools and concepts
  • Supervise student projects and BSc/MSc theses
  • Write research articles, regularly participate in international conferences to present your work

Your Profile:

This position is ideal for someone with a strong mathematical background, interested in applying theoretical principles to machine learning, and willing to collaborate with external partners to incorporate these principles in emerging nanodevices.

  • Master’s degree in physics, computer science, mathematics, electrical/electronic engineering or a related field
  • Familiarity or strong interest in developing neural networks, machine learning and machine learning software frameworks (Pytorch, Tensorflow and/or Jax)
  • Knowledge or practical experience with memristive phenomena are a plus
  • Ability for collaborative work, interdisciplinary and cross-topical thinking
  • Very good communication skills in English, both spoken and written. PGI-15 offers an English speaking environment, therefore German language skills are not required

Our Offer:

We work on the very latest issues that impact our society and are offering you the chance to actively help in shaping the change! We offer ideal conditions for you to complete your doctoral degree:

  • A world-leading, interdisciplinary and international research environment, provided with state-of-the-art experimental equipment and versatile opportunities to grow as a curious researcher
  • An interdisciplinary and collaborative work environment including researchers at the following institutes: Neuromorphic Hardware Nodes (PGI-14), Electronics Materials (PGI-7), the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine - Computational and Systems Neuroscience (INM-6), the Jülich Supercomputer Center (JSC) and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology at RWTH Aachen
  • 30 days of annual leave and provision for days off between public holidays and weekends (e.g. between Christmas and New Year)
  • Further development of your personal strengths, e.g. through an extensive range of training courses; a structured program of continuing education and networking opportunities specifically for doctoral researchers via JuDocS, the Jülich Center for Doctoral Researchers and Supervisors:
  • Targeted services for international employees, e.g. through our International Advisory Service

Place of employment: Aachen (Technologie Zentrum Aachen)

The position is initially for a fixed term of 3 years, with possible long-term prospects. Pay in line with 75% of pay group 13 of the Collective Agreement for the Public Service (TVöD-Bund) and additionally 60 % of a monthly salary as special payment („Christmas Bonus“). Further information on doctoral degrees at Forschungszentrum Jülich including our other locations is available at:

We welcome applications from people with diverse backgrounds, e.g. in terms of age, gender, disability, sexual orientation / identity, and social, ethnic and religious origin. A diverse and inclusive working environment with equal opportunities in which everyone can realize their potential is important to us.

We look forward to receiving your application. The job will be advertised until the position has been successfully filled. You should therefore submit your application as soon as possible.

Apply now

Questions about the offer?

Please feel free to contact us via our contact form.
Please note that for technical reasons we cannot accept applications by e-mail.

Last Modified: 31.01.2023