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Ocean’s Methane sensing using novel surface plasmon resonance technology


   Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

   Wednesday, August 31, 2022  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Supervisory Team:   Rand Ismaeel, Matthew Mowlem

Project description

Ocean monitoring is a critical need, and it is closely related to human survival: from the long-term impact on global climate change to sustainable development of ocean resources.

Requirements for marine sensing include the ability to sense data timely and accurately from all the environments of space, sea surface and deep sea. It also includes smart integration of data from different sensor systems, to enable accurate prediction of future environmental conditions and its influence of all form of life on our planet.

The aim of this exciting and innovative project is to develop and expand the range of analytes (and pollutants) to detect, using a novel surface plasmon resonance technique of Recently, this innovative technique has been previously deployed for the detection of ocean hydrocarbons.

Within this project, you will optimise the sensor for the detection of a specific molecule depending on the following parameters.

•         Sensor material and optimum design.

•         Compatibility with permeable membranes.

•         Sea vehicle specifications (payload size, depth, battery lifetime).

•         Geographic location (Temperature, living aquatics).

•         Water type and depth.

•         Cross sensitivity with other molecules.

The successful candidate will be part of a wider Multidisciplinary team within the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC)/ National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

The project, undertaken with the support of the world leading ocean sensors industries, will be a balance of theoretical and experimental work. The theoretical work will comprise numerical modelling of the interaction of light with a permeable membrane. The experimental work will be undertaken on campus in both ORC (sensor fabrication) and NOC. In collaboration with world class researchers from Imperial College, a permeable membrane for a specific pollutant will add a dimension of selectivity to the sensor. You will also have the opportunity to join Southampton’s Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI).

Ideally, the candidate should have a background in one of the following topics: Physics, Photonics, Electronics Engineering, or Chemical Engineering. Applicants with material science backgrounds are also encouraged to apply. Due to the Multidisciplinary nature of the team, you will have the opportunity to develop valuable range of skills in cross-cutting areas of Engineering, Oceanography, and Chemistry.

A fully funded PhD place on this project is available for eligible UK applicants supported by NERC, EPSRC Studentship. The studentship comes with a stipend of up to £18,000 (tax-free) with fees paid.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Rand Ismaeel, Research Group, Email:

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2022 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £18,000 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online. Select programme type (Research), 2022/23, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, next page select “PhD ORC (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Rand Ismaeel .

Applications should include:

Research Proposal

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/courses/how-to-apply/postgraduate-applications.page

For further information please contact:


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