Sašo Šturm

Jožef Stefan Institute, SI



Prof. Dr. Sašo Šturm heads the Department for Nanostructured Materials at the Jožef Stefan Institute. He is also in charge of the "Nanostructured Materials" research program funded by the Slovenian Research Agency. Prof. Šturm's main research interest is in nanoscience, particularly in the nanomaterials research from synthesis to advanced characterisation. In academia, he serves as a full professor at the Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School, focusing on Nanosciences, and holds an associate professorship in Geology at the University of Ljubljana. He spent a year as a post- doc at the MPI, Stuttgart, and had several appointments as a visiting scientist at Graz Centre for Electron Microscopy, Toyama University, Tokyo University of Science, and Hokkaido University. As a visiting professor, he lectured at Sabanci University in Turkey. His past roles include the presidency of the Slovene Microscopy Society, currently a member of the Executive Board of the European Microscopy Society. He has a significant scholarly record, with 125 peer-reviewed scientific articles, a book chapter, and over 2,100 citations, reflecting his impact in the field, evidenced by an h-index of 28.


Autonomous laboratory for sustainable research and discovery of new materials


We introduce a pioneering project that aims to reshape materials discovery by establishing an autonomous lab dedicated to sustainable research and the development of new materials. The new way of performing research will be based on an inverse materials design approach, where the desired end material property drives the entire discovery process. For instance, our focus on high-entropy oxides, a novel material type with promising catalytic properties and a theoretical potential for over a million different catalytic sites, exemplifies our approach. Nevertheless, turning theoretical possibilities into actual materials efficiently is challenging with traditional experimentation methods. This is even more intensified in studies with high entropy oxides due to their unusual composition containing five or more principal metal cations and oxygen ions in a single-phase crystal structure, which gives thousands of possibilities for their final composition and structure.
Our research plan is to merge state-of-the-art robotic and automation synthesis and characterisation tools, generating extensive data. This data will be enhanced by machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) supported by ab-initio and quantum-computing-based simulations, and fed into a continuous process for materials optimisation, along with insights from fundamental modelling. This truly autonomous approach to materials discovery represents a significant shift in materials discovery, with machines actively augmenting human researchers’ abilities.
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