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PhD / EngD Opportunities

Applied Physics PhD - High Frequency Flexural Ultrasonic Transdcuers (HiFFUTs)

Flexural transducers have been utilised for a variety of applications, most notably as car-parking sensors. Using current technology, flexural transducers are only capable of operating in ambient atmospheric conditions up to frequencies of approximately 50 kHz. Despite the fact that these sensors are produced in their millions, remarkably little is understood about their properties, and we have a unique opportunity to use our understanding of the physics involved to make significant new discoveries and innovations in ultrasonic sensor technology.

Flexural transducers which can operate effectively at higher frequencies are highly desirable and would enable us to probe new areas of scientific metrology, and in this project we will design and construct high frequency sensors that can withstand higher pressure and temperature levels associated with more hostile environments encountered in many real world applications. The major objective of this research is the to understand the physics behind these transducers and then exploit that understanding to development of such flexural transducers, known as high-frequency flexural ultrasonic transducers (HiFFUTs).

This 3.5 year PhD project is part of a team effort at Warwick involving a small team of researchers funded by a £1.2M EPSRC research grant to undertake fundamental research into HiFFUTs. The Ultrasound Group is an Applied Physics research group of approximately 20 people. We publish in the leading Applied Physics journals and collaborate extensively with industry, with many of our research outputs ending up as real world devices.

Applied Physics PhD - In-situ non-contact pressure measurement in sealed cans using acoustic methods [PhD (iCASE) - University of Warwick & NDE Research Association]

The main objective of the proposal is to develop a non-contact, acoustic method for the in-situ measurement of the internal pressure of nuclear material storage cans. The student will assess how a pressure increase within a sealed can will change the frequencies of vibration for particular modes, and will investigate if these measurements can be used to infer changes of pressure over a range of interest, using bespoke acoustic sensors.

The UK’s stock of radioactive waste material is likely to remain in safe and secure storage for many years. The material is stored in stainless steel containers and the packages are at risk from a number of evolutionary processes which could affect the integrity of the package including external corrosion of the container, deterioration of the weld quality, and can pressurisation. The proposal addresses the risk of can pressurisation and seeks to develop a non-contact method of determining can pressure from acoustic measurements.

The University of Warwick has a long history in ultrasonics R&D. It was a founding academic member of the Research Centre for Non Destructive Evaluation (RCNDE) of which BNFL was a founding industrial member and NDA continues with this membership. On this 4 year iCASE PhD project the student will develop skills in acoustics and ultrasonics and knowledge on the issues surrounding the storage of nuclear material, and will spend at least 3 months in total with the industrial partner to widen their skills and broaden their knowledge.

We will work with industrial partners (e.g. Sellafield and NNL) to demonstrate the development system on a mock-up rig of a nuclear material storage facility. The CIU has a track record for delivering impact from research - there are 3 separate spin-out companies from the CIU in areas of ultrasonic and electromagnetic NDT, EMATs, piezoelectric transducers, ultrasonic flow measurement and acoustics.

For either one of the projects above, you will be based in the Ultrasonic Group in the Physics Department at the University of Warwick (, which has an excellent record in developing innovative research and translating it into practical technology. Candidates should hold or expect to hold a 1st (or high 2.1) in Physics, Engineering or related subject area. For more information, please contact Professor Steve Dixon (

Please note, that it is extremely unlikely that we will have any funding to support non-EU students, but very strong students could consider applying for a very competitive University Scholarship. Non-EU students who have some funding (for fees and living expenses) should let us know when they first contact us.

Please contact Steve Dixon for further details to discuss the opprotunity above. ( / T: 02476 573877)

For further information on NDEvR click the link here.