Postgraduate research opportunities

Industrial CASE Studentship with NPL - Laser Measurement Techniques for Combustion Diagnostics in Civil Aerospace

A 48-month full-time, fully funded iCASE studentship for UK students only. An experimental PhD focused on photonics instrumentation design and validation in collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory.

Number of places



Home fee, Equipment costs, Travel costs, Stipend


8 March 2021


8 May 2021


48 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 (~£20,000 per annum, increments every year) and Fees covered for full 4 years.


Subjects that would be considered for the position, EEE, Physics, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Bioengineering.

Project Details

Climate change has led to detailed legislation for emissions reduction. The UK aviation sector is part of a commitment to reduce emissions of CO2 by 75% and NO by 90%. Equally, validated remote measurements of gaseous emissions are required in the direct determination of burning/flaring efficiency, addressing a key uncertainty in GHG emissions across several industrial production and waste management activities.


Tunable diode laser spectroscopy with wavelength modulation (TDLS-WMS) offers in-situ, non-intrusive measurements at high temporal resolution (100s Hz) and has been proven to be ideal for emissions and combustion measurements, particularly in the aerospace sector.  To establish the suitability of the technique for legislative emissions quantification an in-depth analysis of the TDLS-WMS technique is required for species concentration and system temperature.  This requires direct input from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), utilising their experience in development and validation of emission monitoring techniques and, at a more fundamental level, establishing traceability and uncertainties in optical spectroscopy.


This project will provide a fully verified methodology for obtaining the accurate recovery of concentration and temperature using TDLS-WMS, that can be used as the template for the development of international legislation on emissions measurements from aero-engine exhaust.  Publications of fundamental spectroscopic measurements and WMS methodology will be published in appropriate journals.


NPL will provide guidance on the development of a high temperature (1500K), high pressure (10atm) spectrometer at Strathclyde, capable of measuring spectral parameters of key gases for combustion processes (COx, NOx, SOx, H2O) for wavelengths from the UV to the mid-IR. They will support the verification of the WMS techniques, focussed on developing a fully formalised methodology for gas concentration measurement uncertainty for industrial emission quantification. A comparative study of WMS with current gas measurement techniques will be carried out at NPL, and their facilities will be used for the development and validation of a WMS temperature measurement technique using controlled flames, and the assessment of the applicability of the technique to other priority sectors.

Funding Details

Funding is provided for full tuition fees for UK students, along with a generous stipend of ~£20,000 in first year and increasing per year, and £5000 research support grant for equipment and travel costs for the duration of the project.


Dr Michael Lengden (Strathclyde) and Mr Tom Gardiner (NPL) have over 20 years of experience in the development of optical gas sensing instrumentation for industrial and metrology applications.  As leaders in their respective fields, they have worked with multiple industrial and academic partners on a range of sensing projects.

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 8 May 2021. The project will start on 1 October 2021.