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EngD in Innovative Designs for Next Generation SONAR


  Dr Richard O'Leary, Dr Simon Whiteley  Thursday, June 30, 2022  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Industrial Partner: Alba Ultrasound

Ultrasonic sonar transducers are used in a wide range of applications. While the current state-of-the-art active piezoelectric materials can produce highly efficient array transducer configurations, it cannot readily be designed into a smaller size and still operate in the desired frequency range. Hence, there is a research challenge to investigate alternative active materials and transducer geometries which can reduce the overall build envelope, but still provide excellent imaging capability at the desired operating frequency and bandwidth specifications. This project will offer the successful candidate an opportunity to develop expertise in ultrasonic transducer design, as well as acquiring transferrable skills in fabrication of high-quality transducer arrays and their subsequent characterisation and calibration. In particular, the research project will develop key skills in transducer simulation, materials science, manufacturing and instrumentation. Furthermore, as an EngD researcher, there will be additional business-related training and a transition from working in the University laboratory into the partner company, Alba Ultrasound

Project Aims

The primary aim is to explore a range of piezoelectric material configurations, with the specific design objective to produce small form factor sonar, in the following stages:

  1. Simulation of the acoustic front-end active transducer configuration using finite element modelling techniques to understand the vibrational characteristics of each design and how that translates into sonar transducer performance.
  2. Extending the simulation approach to incorporate a sonar array configuration and ensuring that the materials within the transducer array are appropriate in terms of imaging performance. 
  3. Fabrication of key candidate prototype samples for experimental assessment against Alba state-of-the-art devices.
  4. Fabrication of a full sonar array incorporating selected active material configuration and characterisation of its sonar performance against industry standard criteria.

External Partner Summary

Alba Ultrasound Ltd. was formed in 2000 with the aim of becoming a world leader in the design and manufacture of high-performance ultrasonic transducers for underwater sonar applications.

Alba has experienced consistent growth, achieving turnover in excess of £4M over the past five years. This has been achieved by it becoming the leading small independent transducer design and manufacture company, with world leading clients within both the defence and commercial sectors.

Alba’s facility in the West of Scotland Science Park, Glasgow, houses state-of-the-art design, manufacturing, test and qualification equipment. 

How to Apply

Applications must be submitted through the University of Glasgow online application system with a cover letter, CV, two references and your transcript/degree certificate. When applying to this project, please insert the project name in to the “proposed thesis title” section and add “Prof Sandy Cochran” as a placeholder supervisor for the application.

Application deadline: 30th April 2022

Please visit our website for further details about the FUSE CDT and how to apply.

For enquiries, please email

Funding Notes

Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK Home applicants and a stipend at the Research Council rate (£16,062 for 2022/23). In addition, the candidate will receive a top-up of £5,000 pa during the research phase (Years 2-4). To be eligible for this EngD project, you must be a UK citizen, who has been resident in the UK/EEA/Switzerland/Gibraltar for the past three years.

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