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Doctorate/PhD (EQF 8), Master (EQF 7)
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The Faculty of Science and the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) are looking for a PhD candidate, Hardware Security of AI Processors at the Edge


Project description

We are looking for PhD students to work on two projects funded by the European Commission in the Horizon Europe framework: NimbleAI and NeuroSoC. The projects are oriented towards the development of low-power and secure artificial intelligence (AI) processors for edge computing. The PhD students will be supervised by Nele Mentens and Todor Stefanov. Both NimbleAI and NeuroSoC are collaborative projects that will be conducted in a consortium with the leading universities and companies in Europe working on low-power processors, security, and AI.

Key responsibilities

The PhD research will be on topics related to hardware security, such as secure remote hardware configuration, and physical security analysis and countermeasures of AI processors at the edge. During the project, you are expected to conduct original competitive research and proof-of-concept development, to contribute to specific project deliverables, and to write several research articles that together will form the basis of a thesis to attain a PhD degree (dr.) at Leiden University. You will participate in the education and supervision program of the Leiden Graduate School of Science.

Selection Criteria

The successful applicant should be a very motivated university graduate who is a top performer among his/her peers and has an excellent education and/or research track record proven by relevant experience, publications, etc. The applicant is expected to have:

  • A MSc or equivalent degree in Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science or a similar field;
  • Expertise through your field of study in particular in digital hardware design and/or hardware/embedded security;
  • Excellent hardware design, programming, and debugging skills;
  • Excitement about working in a team with the other partners in the projects;
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills;
  • Creative thinking and high motivation;
  • Excellent proficiency in the English language.

Research at our faculty

The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are committed to expand fundamental knowledge by curiosity and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future. The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organized in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programs. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2.300 staff and almost 5,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

You will be part of the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS). LIACS offers courses at the Bachelor and Master of Science level in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, ICT in Business, Media Technology, and Bioinformatics. According to an independent research visitation, LIACS is one of the foremost computer science departments of the Netherlands. We strive for excellence in a caring institute, where excellence, fun, and diversity go hand in hand. We offer a clear and inviting career path to young and talented scientists with the ambition to grow. 


Terms and conditions

We offer a full-time position for initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility, the appointment will be extended by a further three years. Salary range from € 2,443,- to €3,122,- gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science. Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school.


Diversity and inclusion are core values of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive.


Enquiries can be made to Prof. Nele Mentens (n.mentens@liacs.leidenuniv.nl). If you have any questions about the procedure, contact Alice Bisschop (jobs@liacs.leidenuniv.nl).


To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to jobs@liacs.leidenuniv.nl. Please ensure that you upload the following additional pdf documents quoting the vacancy number:

  • Curriculum Vitae,
  • Letter of Motivation,
  • MSc diploma with transcripts (courses + grades).

Only applications received before May 31, 2022, can be considered