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In situ characterisation of liquids in decommissioning environments by LIBS


   Department of Chemical Engineering & Analytical Science

   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project is fully-funded by the EPSRC and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) as an industrial case studentship and is primarily based at NNL Workington in West Cumbria. It would be ideal for anyone contemplating a career in the nuclear industry.

Characterisation of in liquids is an important aspect of both next generation nuclear facilities as well as for nuclear decommissioning. This project aims to investigate the in situ characterisation of these environments using laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) which can provide rapid elemental analysis. We have demonstrated success in preliminary measurements on molten salts in pyro-processing by measuring from the liquid surface but there are further questions to answer regarding whether the sampling is representative of the bulk as well as by applying multivariate data analytics and machine learning to the derived spectra. The project will explore representative sampling by comparing ‘dip-stick’ sampling and direct LIBS measurement on the dip-stick as well as the development of a LIBS probe to directly sample the liquid bulk. The latter would be initially developed and trialled for ambient temperature environments. Comparisons will be made with extracted samples measured off-line by ICP.

LIBS underwater or molten salt probe measurements are particularly challenging and we will build on the experience of the bespoke LIBS and Raman systems that we have built in our laboratory for robotic application on the TORONE project (www.torone-project.com).

You will be part of a cohort of PhD students based at NNL in Workington in a dedicated research student laboratory with regular visits to the main university campus.

The PhD starting in September 2022 is a 4-year studentship that will cover all tuition fees for the duration of the PhD and provide a tax-free stipend to cover living costs. This will be enhanced above the standard PhD stipend (exact amount to be determined). The funding will also cover travel and related costs linked to the research project. Applicants should meet the criteria for UKRI-funded studentships and may be required to undergo security clearance.

Entry Requirements

The project is suitable for applicants from physics, chemistry, engineering or related backgrounds.

Application Information

Information about the application process and a link to the online application form can be found at https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/admissions/how-to-apply/.

You MUST make contact with the lead project supervisor before submitting an application.

When completing the application include the name of the lead project supervisor as the potential supervisor.

Enquiries about this project can be sent to Prof Philip Martin - as the lead project supervisor. The Admissions team in Chemical Engineering can be contacted at  with any queries you may have regarding the application process.

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact. We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status.

We also support applications from those returning from a career break or other roles. We consider offering flexible study arrangements (including part-time: 50%, 60% or 80%, depending on the project/funder). 


Funding Notes

This 4-year EPSRC Industrial CASE studentship supported by NNL covers fees for the duration of the PhD and will also provide a stipend above the standard UKRI rate of £15,609 (uplift to stipend from industrial contribution tbc).
The usual eligibility criteria for research council funding as set out at View Website apply. EU students who hold pre-settled status or settled status in the UK can also be considered where the residency requirement has been met.

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