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PhD Studentship - Aerospace optical sensors (GE Aviation)

Photonic Systems Circuits & Sensors Group

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Wednesday 01 July 2020
Reference:  1256320PN

Supervisor:                 Dr Christopher Holmes, Prof Ling Wang

Project description

Sensors are crucial components for flight.  In addition to providing information to the flight crew, they are increasingly providing information for Artificial Intelligence systems, in order to predict and thus avoid faults. Such capability would make aviation safer, less polluting and reduce flight disruption.

The challenge for all AI systems is how to measure and interpret the data. This is not trivial and requires development and understanding of both the sensor platform and mechanical phenomena. Generally, a greater proliferation of sensors in harsh environments is considered beneficial and an increasing trend amongst the aviation industry. Effectively, this provides observation with eyes wide open to what was previously obscured. 

This studentship considers optical fibre sensors as a route to increase monitoring capability in aviation’s harsh environments. Optical fibre sensors offer huge potential for intelligent monitoring. They have an immunity to electromagnetic interference, are lightweight, have a small cross-sectional footprint (thickness of a human hair), can survive temperatures in excess of 400oC and use materials that are chemically inert and non-conductive. This means that they can collect data-rich information in adverse environments, permitting more comprehensive information to be gathered. 

In this studentship you shall build an optical system that can monitor epicyclical gears aboard rotorcraft. The core technology shall be based upon optical fibre segmented interferometry (OFSI) and spectral multiplexed Bragg gratings. Developments shall target vibration and thermal mapping of the outer casing of a gearbox, to condition monitor the complex planetary gear system within. The solution shall use lightweight optical fibres containing 100’s of sensor elements to construct a solution that captures pre-failure modes. 

We are seeking graduates in Engineering, Physics or Computer Science keen to develop knowledge in Photonics, Tribology and Machine Learning. 

This studentship will be jointly supervised by Dr Christopher Holmes, Optoelectronics Research Centre and Prof Ling Wang, National Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton. Prototype validation shall be undertaken jointly at the University of Southampton and GE Aviation.  

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Christopher Holmes, Optical Engineering and Quantum Photonics Research Group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 594532.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 01 July 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition for EU/UK Students plus, for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £21,000 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Applications should be made online here selecting ‘PhD ORC (Full time)’ as the programme. Please enter ‘Aerospace optical sensors (GE Aviation)’ under the Topic or Field of Research.

Applications should include

Research Proposal

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact:

The closing date for this job opportunity has now passed, and applications are no longer being accepted for this position

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