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Development of ultra-high-speed image-based technology for the study of lightning and lightning interactions


   Cardiff School of Engineering

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  Dr Daniel Mitchard, Prof M Haddad, Dr Nicolas Peretto  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

EPSRC funded project 3.5 years full time.

Lightning is one of the most unpredictable and destructive forces in nature, and poses a considerable threat to building infrastructure, transportation links, data connections, and power distribution networks. Climate change has seen a dramatic increase in the frequency and energy of lightning strikes worldwide over the last twenty years, and this trend is predicted to continue. There is growing scientific interest in developing new tools and techniques for the fundamental study of lightning and lightning interactions with materials and structures, to better mitigate destructive effects. The characterisation of lightning arc evolution, temperature gradients, and energy distribution and dissipation on the nanosecond timescale are all key to this work.

This project aims to develop ultra-high-speed image-based technology to record and measure the electromagnetic emissions from both high voltage and high current laboratory generated lightning arcs both within the air and its interaction with conductive and insulating materials. This will primarily include optical emission spectroscopy, but also still, video, and schlieren techniques. The focus will be within the 250 to 950 nm wavelength range for lightning arcs up to 400 kV and 200 kA. Mathematical analysis and modelling techniques will then be used to derive various characteristics. The primary application will be the electrical energy sector, but other sectors will also be included, such as the built environment and transportation.

This is a joint project between the Schools of Engineering and Physics, and it will be based at Cardiff University’s lightning research laboratory. This facility is the only one of its kind in Europe, and one of only a few worldwide, incorporating a wide range of advanced diagnostic and analytical capabilities. The successful candidate will be integrated into a long-established and world-leading research group with excellent opportunities for mentoring and collaboration, particularly with our national and international academic and industrial partners.

The student will be enrolled in a programme of practical training, and will be expected to participate in seminars, conferences, and the preparation of journal papers and grant applications. There may also be opportunities to be involved in public engagement, such as talks at schools, youth groups, and festivals. Some national and international travel is expected.

Academic Criteria

Candidate must meet the following essential criteria:

1.      Candidates should hold or expect to gain a first-class degree or a good 2.1 (or equivalent) in Engineering, Physics, or a related subject.

Candidates can meet some or all the following desirable criteria:

1.      Experience of working in an experimental environment, such as within a laboratory or in an industrial setting. This can also include laboratory and project work done as part of a degree.

2.      Experience in one or more of the following practical areas: lightning, plasma/particle physics, high voltage/high current engineering, electrical systems, optical systems, spectroscopy, high-speed imaging, schlieren imaging, photography/video.

3.      Experience in one or more of the following computing areas: component design, simulation/modelling, mathematical programming, data collection and analysis.

4.      Experience in one or more of the following communication areas: Written reports, presentations, demonstration activities.

The EPSRC DTP welcomes candidates from ‘non-traditional’ backgrounds, and applications from all sections of the community, irrespective of background or any protected characteristic as defined by the Equality Act 2010, are encouraged.

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language (IELTS 6.5 or equivalent)

Contact for further information

Please contact Dr Daniel Mitchard ([Email Address Removed])  to informally discuss this opportunity

How to apply

Applicants should submit an application for postgraduate study via the Cardiff University webpages (http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research/programmes/programme/engineering ) including;

·        Cover letter (one side of A4). Briefly introduce yourself, your background and experience, your motivation for pursing a PhD, and why you feel you are best suited to this project.

·        Your CV (maximum of two sides A4). Briefly list relevant qualifications, employment history and relevant experience/skills.

·        Two references (applicants are recommended to have a third academic referee, if the two academic referees are within the same department/school).

·        Current academic transcripts

·        Additional information (maximum of two sides A4). Detail how you meet the essential and desirable criteria.

Applicants should select Doctor of Philosophy (Engineering), with a start date of July or October 2022. In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select "I will be applying for a scholarship / grant" and specify that you are applying for advertised funding, reference DM-EPSRC-22. Applicants can upload all above documents as a single file in the 'Personal Statement' section of the webpages.

Deadline for applications

31st May 2022. We may however close this opportunity earlier if a suitable candidate is identified.


Funding Notes

Tuition fees at the home/EU rate (£4,500 in 2021/2) and an annual stipend equivalent to current Research Council rates (£15,609 stipend for academic year 2021/2), plus support for travel/conferences/consumables.
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.
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