Postgraduate research opportunities

PhD - Optical Measurement Techniques for Combustion Diagnostics

A 42-month full-time PhD fully funded for UK students only. An experimental PhD focused on photonics instrumentation design, supporting an EPSRC research grant in collaboration with Rolls-Royce, Siemens and the Universities of Edinburgh, Manchester, Southampton, Sheffield and Loughborough.

Number of places



Home fee, Travel costs, Stipend


15 February 2021


30 April 2021


42 months


  • Possess an upper second (2.1) UK BEng/BSc Hons or MSc/MEng degree in a relevant engineering, physics or chemistry related subject.
  • Have UG level skills and understanding of laser devices and molecular spectroscopy.
  • Fee Status – UK – Full Stipend (~£15,609 in first year and increments every year) and Fees covered for full 3.5 years.

UKRI Studentship Eligibility

The eligibility criteria for UKRI funding has changed for studentships commencing in the 2021/22 academic year. Now, all home and international students are eligible to apply for UKRI funding which will cover the full stipend and tuition fees at the home rate (not the international rate). Under the new criteria, UKRI have stipulated a maximum percentage of international students that can be recruited each year against individual training grants. This will be managed at the institutional level for all EPSRC DTP and ICASE grants. For EPSRC CDT grants, this will be managed by the individual CDT administrative/management team. For ESRC and AHRC studentships the final funding decision will be made by the respective grant holder.


To be classed as a home student, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter.


The residency requirements are based on the Education (Fees and Awards) (England) Regulations 2007 and subsequent amendments. Normally to be eligible for a full award a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship (with some further constraint regarding residence for education).

If a student does not meet the criteria above, they will be classed as an international student. The international portion of the tuition fee cannot be funded by the UKRI grant and must be covered from other sources. International students are permitted to self-fund the difference between the home and international fee rates.

Project Details

Laser-based absorption spectroscopy can be used in numerous industrial applications to measure species concentrations for process control, combustion diagnostics, environmental monitoring, and emissions measurement, and can be applied in various forms (wavelength modulation spectroscopy, cavity ringdown spectroscopy, photo-acoustic spectroscopy). 


The aim of this studentship is to investigate various optical sources, and novel optical sensing techniques, for the measurement of the target gaseous species (CO, CO2 and H2O). This will include the investigation of fast tuning rate quantum cascade lasers, understanding the relaxation rates of excited molecules in high temperature environments, and the development of broadly tuneable sources around the 2000 nm region.


You will be directly involved in an EPSRC Programme Grant that is a collaboration between the Universities of Edinburgh, Manchester, Sheffield, Southampton, and Loughborough, and led by the team at Strathclyde. You will be required to attend technical meetings, and the yearly round-up meeting with partner universities and companies.  This will include being supported in presenting your research and encouraged to further engage with project partners.  Finally, you will be given the opportunity to carry out combustion measurements at the Universities of Sheffield and Loughborough.


The intention is to support the student to attend international conferences during their PhD, and to encourage participation in skills workshops within the Engineering Faculty and through the Researcher Development Programme. You will also be able to enhance your communication skills by presenting work at the Faculty and University Research days and be trained in writing and submitting the outcomes of their research to international peer-reviewed, high quality journals.

Funding Details

Funding is provided for full tuition fees for UK students, along with a generous stipend of ~£15,6090, and a £5000 research support grant for equipment and travel costs for the duration of the project.


Dr Michael Lengden and Professor Walter Johnstone have over 20 years of experience in the development of optical gas sensing instrumentation for industrial applications and are the lead team in a recently been awarded an EPSRC Programme Grant with the Universities of Edinburgh, Manchester, Sheffield, Southampton, and Loughborough.

How to apply

Candidates interested in applying should first email for an informal discussion (via email or Zoom). Thereafter, they should submit their CV, academic transcript, and a covering letter outlining their suitability for the position, to him. Following review of the application submissions, selected candidates will be invited for interview. Application submission deadline is 30 April 2021. The project will start on 1 October 2021.