PhD Studentship, Applied Photonic Technologies for Deep Ocean Life Monitoring

Southampton, United Kingdom
£18,000 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years
Wednesday, 28 July 2021
End of advertisement period
Tuesday, 31 August 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Fibre & Systems Group

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Tuesday 31 August 2021
Reference:  1449421PN

Supervisory Team:    Gilberto Brambilla, Rand Ismaeel, Timothy Lee, Matthew Mowlem, Qilei Song

Project description

This unique PhD project aims to develop a new class of marine sensors based on cutting edge photonics research. In a collaboration between the ORC and the National Oceanography Centre, we will study the detection of various molecules ranging from dissolved gases and hydrocarbons, to DNA and subsea bio cells.  Such technology has the potential to revolutionise the marine industry with compact and highly sensitive optical detectors. Real-life application of these devices can be implemented to explore and understand the evolution mechanism of unknown sub-sea species through monitoring its DNA structures. The design and manufacturing of submersible fluorometers will also be studied through integrating photonics sensors with autonomous sea vehicles.

The successful candidate will be based at the ORC but will also have the opportunity to conduct experiments at the NOC world-class facilities.

Devices based on surface plasmon resonance structures will be the focus of these sensors, generating these structures using femtosecond laser inscribed devices will also be investigated through the lifetime of the project.

Within this project, you will optimise the sensor for the detection of a specific molecule depending on the following parameters.

  • Sensor material and optimum design.
  • Sea vehicle specifications (payload size, depth, battery lifetime).
  • Geographic location (Temperature, living aquatics).
  • Water type and depth. 
  • Cross sensitivity with other molecules.

The successful candidate will be part of a wider Multidisciplinary team within the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC)/ National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

The project, undertaken with the support of the world leading ocean sensors industries, will be a balance of theoretical and experimental work. The theoretical work will comprise numerical modelling of the interaction of light with a permeable membrane. The experimental work will be undertaken on campus in both ORC (sensor fabrication) and  NOC (sensor testing and calibration). You will also have the opportunity to join Southampton’s Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI). 

Ideally, the candidate should have a background in one of the following topics: Physics, Photonics, Electronics Engineering, Oceanography or Biology. Applicants with material science backgrounds are also encouraged to apply. Due to the Multidisciplinary nature of the team, you will have the opportunity to develop valuable range of skills in cross-cutting areas of Engineering, Oceanography, and Chemistry.

A fully funded PhD place on this project is available for eligible UK applicants supported by NERC, EPSRC Studentship.   The studentship comes with a stipend of up to £18,000 (tax-free) with fees paid.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2021 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £18,000 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Applications should be made online. Select programme type (Research), 2021/22, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, next page select “PhD  ORC (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Gilberto Brambilla 

Applications should include

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Two reference letters
  • Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact:

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