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Development of a mobile platform for Quantum Technology gravity instrument

Project Description

Understanding what is buried in the ground and what is the condition of the ground (soft areas, low density) is vitally important to deliver safe and in budget construction projects, especially large projects such as HS2 and Crossrail and reduce the risk due to buried hazards such as mineshafts. More importantly, this knowledge is essential if the underground space is going to be utilised more effectively in the future to free up surface space for green developments. Several different technologies exist to see through the ground, but many rely on transmitting an electromagnetic wave through the ground which is then reflected off a buried pipe or cable with the reflected signal received at the ground surface. However, the ground, especially wet clay, can make it really difficult to see anything deeper than a few centimetres. Thus, an alternative technology such as micro-gravity needs to be utilised. This technology measures the gravitational field of the subsurface by measuring density variations, but existing sensors are affected by the density of surrounding buildings or features, vibration from traffic and wind and ocean tides, to name but a few. This limits the possible resolution, i.e. smaller objects cannot be detected.

Current gravity instruments such as the CG5 (Scintrex) are affected by several noise sources. One key drawback is that the CG5 requires stabilisation in one position, i.e. it needs to be stationary for some time. Additionally, it requires very accurate tilt correction in order to measure gravity vertically with respect to the centre of the earth and thus requires adjustments for every survey point taken. In order to compete with other geophysical instrumentation such as Ground Penetrating Radar, any future geophysical survey instrument should be mobile in order to cover a larger area and thus make the survey economic. This project will assess the viability of placing the new Quantum Technology (QT) instruments, as developed by the QT Hub, on a mobile platform. This will require the assessment of the impact of vibration, tilt and movement on the measurements. Moreover, it will require the construction of a mobile platform with very accurate positional, vibrational and tilt measurements and/or corrections.
The project will combine theoretical assessments with computer modelling and field trials. There will be close collaboration with the QT Hub in Sensors and Metrology ( led by Birmingham.

Therefore, if you are interested working across disciplines (e.g. geotechnical engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, physics, computer science), are highly motivated, adaptable and a good communicator, this might be a PhD project for you.

Interested applicants should contact the project supervisor, Dr Nicole Metje, for an informal discussion.

To find out more about studying for a PhD at the University of Birmingham see

Funding Notes

This research project is one of a number of projects at this institution. It is in competition for funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the project which receives the best applicant will be awarded the funding. The funding is for UK home fees and a stipend.

Overseas Students: If you have the correct qualifications and access to your own funding, either from your home country or your own finances, your application to work on this project will be considered.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Civil and Construction Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 18.10

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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