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EngD Photonic sensors for future power grid applications

This four-year EngD project to investigate the development of new photonic sensors, is offered by the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering in partnership with Synaptec

Number of places



Home fee, Stipend


1 June 2017


31 January 2018


Four years


To be considered for the position, candidates must:

  • Possess a first class or Upper Second BEng (Honours) degree or MSc with Distinction in Electronic / Electrical / Mechanical Engineering, or Physics
  • Adhere to Research Council (RCUK) studentship eligibility criteria

Exposure to photonics and mechanical engineering as part of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree programme would be of benefit.

Eligibility for RCUK studentships

  • Research Council (RC) fees and stipend can only be awarded to UK and EU students and not to EEA or International students.
  • EU students are only eligible for RC stipend if they have been resident in the UK for 3 years, including for study purposes, immediately prior to starting their PhD.
  • If an EU student cannot fulfil this condition then they are eligible for a fees only studentship.
  • International students cannot be funded from RC funds unless they are ‘settled’ in the UK. ‘Settled’ means being ordinarily resident in the UK without any immigration restrictions on the length of stay in the UK. To be ‘settled’ a student must either have the Right to Abode or Indefinite leave to remain in the UK or have the right of permanent residence in the UK under EC law. If the student’s passport describes them as a British citizen they have the Right of Abode.
  • Students with full Refugee status are eligible for fees and stipend.

Project Details

The electricity transmission and distribution networks are undergoing significant transformation because of the massive deployment of renewable energy sources, disrupting the conventional ways the networks are protected, controlled and maintained. While grid reinforcement will be essential to cope with these new demands, a “smarter” way of dealing with the problem will be to combine grid reinforcement with methods to increase network visibility that can be used to introduce novel, more advanced power system control and protection methodologies.

This EngD project aims to develop new photonic sensors and interrogation platforms based on the generic technologies owned by Synaptec – a spin-out company from the Department.

In the area of sensor development, the project will focus on contactless voltage and current sensors based on hybrid, fibre Bragg grating (FBG)/piezoelectric transducers that can be integrated with power cables, splices or connectors. Furthermore, the project will propose and demonstrate FBG based dc voltage and current sensors and will propose and investigate methods to meet stringent metrological standards. In the area of photonic sensor interrogation, the project will focus on the development of reliable techniques for high-performance interrogation of a large number of FBG based sensors over extended distances, including, among other things, the investigation of interferometric interrogation platforms integrated onto a photonic chip, aspects of redundancy within the photonic networks, and photonic signal amplification for long-reach applications. The general goal will be to push the boundaries of these technologies by addressing a range of engineering problems to ensure wider industry acceptance.

The project will be carried out in close collaboration with Synaptec’s Research & Development (R & D) teams and will offer an outstanding opportunity for the student to engage with the major power system operators and equipment manufacturers.

The project is available for immediate start.

Funding Details

Depending on RCUK studentship eligibility criteria, tuition fees and/or a stipend of up to £19,121 per annum, will be covered for the duration of the project.

Contact us

How to apply

To apply, candidates should email their CV and a covering letter highlighting their interests and suitability for the project to Dr Niewczas.  

Application deadline is 31 August 2017.

The project is available for an immediate start.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please email Dr Niewczas or tel: + 44 (0)141 548 2869