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PhD Imaging the sound of light: laser ultrasonic phased arrays for remote sensing in extreme environments.

A 42-month full-time, fully-funded PhD, supported by EPSRC, focusing on remote ultrasonic imaging in extreme environments using laser ultrasonics.

Number of places



Home fee, Travel costs, Stipend


26 January 2018


15 September 2018


3.5 years


To be considered for the project, candidates must:

  • Be a UK or eligible EU national and adhere to Research Council (RCUK) eligibility criteria. 
  • Possess, or be about to obtain, an upper second (2.1) UK BEng Hons or postgraduate Masters qualification in a relevant engineering or physics related subject.
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm for research.
  • Excellent report writing and presentation skills.

Expertise in experimental research would also be appreciated.


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

Applications are invited for a research studentship in the field of Laser Ultrasonics leading to the award of a PhD degree and starting in October 2018. This PhD is an excellent opportunity for experimental research as well as engaging with industry.

Ultrasonic phased arrays have changed the way ultrasonic imaging is perceived and are responsible for increased imaging quality, in real time. Since the '60s, they have had a profound impact in science, medicine and society, being the technology at the heart of all medical ultrasonic imaging and sonars. During the last two decades, they have seen a dramatic increase in their use for non-destructive testing, which is the focus of the PhD study.

Conventional piezoelectric ultrasonic transducers are still used for the vast majority of phased array ultrasonic measurements. However, this types of sensors have certain technological limitations, e.g. they require contact; they have considerable size, weight and footprint which may be prohibitive when applied in places with restrictive access; their delicate electrical connections and packaging may not withstand extreme environments.

The aim of the PhD study is to use laser ultrasonics for remote ultrasonic imaging, addressing the current technological limitations of conventional ultrasonic transducers. The technique uses lasers to generate and detect ultrasound and will have minimum impact on structures, will be electrically neutral and could be applied remotely, even in extreme environments or in places of restricted access, for in-line process monitoring or in-service inspection. The ambition of the PhD project is to translate this capability into safety-critical applications, for example imaging inside aero-engines, or during additive manufacturing, where conventional ultrasonic phased arrays cannot be applied.

The laser ultrasonic phased arrays will be synthesised in post processing and the core objectives of the PhD study will be:

  • Optimisation of the data acquisition method to laser ultrasonics for fast data acquisition.
  • Optimisation of imaging algorithms to laser ultrasonics for efficient ultrasonic imaging.
Demonstration of the system's potential for remote ultrasonic imaging in extreme environments.

Funding Details

Funding is provided for full tuition fees (UK and eligible EU applicants only) and provides a generous stipend (£14553 per year, subject to annual inflation), for the duration of the project.  Support with travel costs (up to £1500 per year) is also provided.

Contact us

How to apply

Suitably qualified applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervising academics Dr Theodosia Stratoudaki or Professor Anthony Gachagan, sending their CV, academic transcript and a covering letter, highlighting their interests and suitability for the project. Please refer to the PhD studentship title on your email.

Following review of the application submissions, selected candidates will be invited for interview.

Application submission deadline is 15 September 2018.

The project will start on 1st October 2018.