Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) Featured PhD Programmes
University of Exeter Featured PhD Programmes
University College London Featured PhD Programmes

Laser mirror coatings for future gravitational wave observatories and other space applications.

   Department of Biomedical Engineering

  Prof Stuart Reid,  Thursday, December 30, 2021  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

To commence October 2021 or before January 2022 this 3.5 year studentship is available for students who possess a first class or 2.1 (Honors), or equivalent EU/International qualification in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Physics, Chemistry, or another relevant discipline. The candidate should have the following technical experience and personal skills:

·        Self-motivated individual with skills and/or interest in materials processing/characterisation, thin film deposition, and process modelling/optimisation.

·        Knowledge in solid state mechanics would be an advantage but is not essential.

·        A proactive approach, with initiative and ability to work independently.

  • Ability to synthesise, summarise, and draw conclusions.
  • Strength to cope with schedules and deadlines.
  • Excellent organisational and communication skills.
  • Excellent written and spoken English.


In 2014, a new window on the Universe was opened by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) with the first detection of gravitational waves, associated with the merger of two stellar mass black holes.  This was the single most energetic event observed, converting 3 solar masses into gravitational radiation energy in approximately a ¼ second, and the detection was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017. Since then, further binary black hole mergers have been observed, in addition to the first observation of a binary neutron star merger in 2017, which was observed both in gravitational and electromagnetic radiation, shedding new insight into the expansion of the Universe and the origin of elements. By the end of 2020, over 50 neutron star and black hole binary coalescences have been observed and confirmed.

Future improvements to detector sensitivity are required to truly exploit this new field of gravitational wave astronomy.  One of the most challenging areas is reducing thermally driven motion (Brownian thermal noise) associated with the laser mirror coatings used in the interferometric detection system. The University of Strathclyde is a member of the LSC and Einstein Telescope consortium and is leading the international development of microwave (electron cyclotron resonance) ion beam deposition, for fabricating extreme performance mirror coatings. Funding has been provided through UKRI-STFC to fully fund a 3.5-year PhD project to develop multilayer laser mirror coatings.

This project will gain access to the Centre for Extreme Performance Optical Coatings (EPOC) situated within the newly established National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS), and will engage with the local and national photonics industry to help support the development of next generation optical coating technology, and explore routes to generate intellectual property and societal benefit.

This project will involve collaborative visits to Caltech, and will also collaborate closely with other members within the LSC, particularly the University of Glasgow, the University of the West of Scotland, Stanford University, and the University of Montreal Polytechnique.

Funding Notes

Due to funding restrictions this position is only available for UK candidates. The funding covers tuition fees and tax-free annual maintenance payments of at least the UK Research Council minimum (currently around £15,600) per annum for 3.5 years. We will only accept applications from international students who confirm in their email application that they are able to pay the difference between the Home and International fees (approximately £17,500 per annum). The Stipend is not to be used to cover fees. If you are unable to cover this cost the application will be rejected.

Email Now

Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.