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  Ocean’s Methane sensing using novel surface plasmon resonance technology

   Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

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  Dr Rand Ismaeel  Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Supervisory Team:   Rand Ismaeel, Matthew Mowlem

Project description

Although our oceans contain 99% of the living space on the planet, only less than 10% of this space has been explored. The oceans cover 71% of the Earth's surface, while 95% remains unexplored.

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.

Today, ocean research is widely enhanced by marine sensing technologies, including in situ testing, integrated sensor networks, as well as remote sensing. However, as the deadline of carbon net-zero rapidly approaches, there is an ever-increasing demand to increase the compactness and the efficiency of ocean sensors. Development is required to to enable new generation of ocean sensors capable of detecting trace concentration of pollutants, while kept compact enough to be integrated into miniaturised subsea vehicles. 

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 successfully 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 (sensor testing and calibration). 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: [Email Address Removed]

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 2023 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:

For further information please contact: [Email Address Removed]

Engineering (12) Environmental Sciences (13) Physics (29)

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 About the Project