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New materials and structures that control the propagation of acoustic radiation, Physics & Astronomy– PhD (Funded)

Project Description

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in April 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover UK tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least approximately £14,500 for 4 years full-time. The student would be based in Physics Building at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.

The successful applicant will join TEAM-A: The tailored electromagnetic and acoustic materials accelerator (, an EPSRC Prosperity Partnership programme. The aim of this partnership, which builds upon the successful relationship that exists between the University of Exeter and QinetiQ, is to develop advanced materials and devices that can be used to control and manipulate the propagation of electromagnetic and acoustic energy, in a highly tailored, bespoke fashion, and develop innovative techniques for their cost-effective manufacture.

The studentships are to the value of around £90,000, which includes £11,000 towards the research project (travel, consumables, equipment etc.), tuition fees, and an annual, tax-free stipend of approximately £14,500 per year for UK nationals.

To develop novel acoustic sources by harnessing thermoacoustic effects. Improved acoustic sources are required for ultrasonic sensing (e.g. the Ultracane); medical scanners, security systems and multimedia display technology. The latter provides an example of the need to integrate optical and acoustic technologies: flat-panel displays grow thinner and more flexible, but the sound sources still generally rely on moving coil speakers invented a century ago. Within the last year, companies such as LG (’Crystal Sound’) and Sony (’Acoustic Surface’) have prototyped OLED displayed that are directly vibrated (again, by moving coil drivers) to produce sound from the whole screen surface. However, a far better and more practical solution would be to generate sound without any moving parts. Thermoacoustic generation becomes more efficient as the driving frequency increases (currently experimentally demonstrated up to 1MHz) making it particularly suited to ultrasonic applications. Nanomaterials such as graphene-based materials have shown great promise but have been limited to laboratory-based demonstrations. In this project the successful applicant will build upon recent work at Exeter, which has shown that it is possible to generate, amplify, mix and modulate sound in a single device, to demonstrate: underwater sound sources of high acoustic efficiency; phased-arrays for ultrasonic beam-forming and directivity; and optic-fibre-based sources.

Funding Notes

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. Applicants must be UK nationals.

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