Project Type: PhD

Supervisor: Dr Marcus Perry

Project Description

This project is only partially funded for international students.

This project will develop fibre-optic sensors for remote, distributed gamma dosimetry. The aim is to use state-of-the-art approaches in sensor hardware and software development to produce a measurement system which can distinguish between gamma ray energies over a high measurement range. 

Fibre-based dosimeters today operate by measuring radiation-induced optical absorption, luminescence, or shifts in fibre-Bragg grating wavelength. The major innovation in this project is to use an intelligent combination of these techniques with data analytics. This will improve system redundancy and robustness, and enhance sensor measurement range, resolution, and confidence. The outputs of this PhD project will provide a pathway to a commercially-deployable distributed fibre dosimetry system, something which has not yet been demonstrated. 

This project is a strong fit for the CDT in Applied Photonics as it develops novel photonic sensor manufacturing and analysis methods that meet unmet measurement needs in high-value industrial applications. These applications span distributed radiation monitoring in pipelines and sentry boreholes, and nuclear new build and retro-fit detector systems. 

PhD objectives are to: 

1)    Review the state-of-the-art in fibre dosimetry, and develop designs for fibre-optic sensor bundles that meet industry partners’ deployment and measurement requirements. Variable gamma sensitivities will be achieved by selecting for fibre glass chemistry, cladding composition, coating/shielding materials, and interrogation methods. 

2)    Test sensors at the Scottish Centre for The Application of Plasma Accelerators (SCAPA), to characterise sensing performances as a function of gamma dose rate, energy, and integrated dose. 

3)    Apply signal processing and data analytics approaches to improve measurement confidence, and separate out gamma energies and other confounding variables. 

4)    Investigate future pathways to in-field applications and commercialisation. 

This is a significant body of work that demands prolonged access to state-of-the-art facilities in fibre-optic sensor fabrication, interrogation, and radiation testing. 

The industry funding for this PhD is provided by a consortium of nuclear industry partners who are members of the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Nuclear Research Centre. Cavendish Nuclear will act as the main industrial supervisors for this PhD, but the candidate will be required to report progress to the wider industry consortium.¬†

This is primarily a lab-based PhD project, particularly in years 1-2. Data analysis and literature review aspects can be conducted flexibly (i.e. working from home). 

The student will be based on-campus at the University of Strathclyde, and will work across the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering (supervised by Dr Marcus Perry and Dr Joanna Renshaw) and the department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (supervised by Prof Pawel Niewczas). In addition to pooled expertise in fibre-optic sensing, dosimetry and radiation-effects on materials, this cross-departmental supervision will give the student access to the following facilities: 

1)    Prof Niewczas’s fibre optics lab (anticipated that student will spend approx. 40% of their lab time based here): This lab in the Technology & Innovation Centre building contains state-of-the-art facilities for fibre sensor preparation, characterisation, and interrogation. 

2)    Civil & Environmental Engineering’s radiation testing labs (approx. 20% of the time), suitable for relatively low-dose low energy testing with radioactive sources. 

3)    The University’s SCAPA facility (approx. 15% of the time): This facility, based in the John Anderson building, uses high intensity lasers to irradiate plasma targets, resulting in the generation of a range of particle beams and electromagnetic radiation pulses. This includes gamma rays with energies up to 10 MeV. 

4)    Desk study and analysis time (approx. 25% of the time): The student’s main desk will be in the Department of Civil & Environmental engineering, in the James Weir building. 

All buildings and facilities are co-located on Strathclyde’s central campus, within ~250m of each other. 

Relevant EDI and flexible working policies for University of Strathclyde can be found at: https://www.strath.ac.uk/staff/policies/eqdiv/ and https://www.strath.ac.uk/whystrathclyde/peoplestrategy/agileworking/ 

The EDI policy for Cavendish Nuclear is also available here: https://www.cavendishnuclear.com/join-us/equality-diversity-inclusion/ 

The department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Strathclyde is an Athena Swan Silver award holder, in recognition of our department’s diversity and its strong representation of women in engineering: 

https://www.strath.ac.uk/engineering/civilenvironmentalengineering/aboutus/athenaswan

Dr Marcus Perry’s group all work flexibly owing to informal arrangements that provide optimal outcomes for each student’s health & wellbeing, personal requirements, and PhD project outcomes. Dr Perry is a champion for EDI: he sits on two EPSRC EDI subcommittees, and has an official allyship and liaison role with his University’s WISE and Racial Equality working groups. 

CDT Essential Criteria

A Masters level degree (MEng, MPhys, MSc) at 2.1 or equivalent.

Desire to work collegiately, be involved in outreach, undertake taught and professional skills study.

Project Desirable Criteria

 None. We are open to considering applicants from broad technical backgrounds. 

Partial Funding for International Students

For international students this project is only partially funded. International students will be provided with a minimum stipend of £15,609 per annum in the first year increasing to £16,900 in years two to four, however are required to fund the difference between the Home Fee which the EPSRC fund and the International Fee charged by the University; the cost of this is in the region of £15,500 per annum for four years, a total cost in the region of £62,000.