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Optical and acoustic methods for studying aerosols across scales - development and application of new techniques in aerosol dynamics

School of Science and Engineering

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Dr J Nylk No more applications being accepted Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

This project will focus on the development of new opto-acoustic instrumentation for the study of aerosols across multiple scales – from single particle-particle interactions to deposition in flowing systems.
The study of aerosols has wide reaching implications in manufacturing, combustion, atmospheric science and public health. Of current importance is the study of aerosol-based disease transmission.

Light has fantastic power not just for imaging, but also for the manipulation of small delicate samples. So-called optical tweezers enable intricate systems to be studied at the level of individual particles and impact in numerous fields – Arthur Ashkin was awarded part of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018 for his pioneering work in their inception. More recently, the same principles have been applied with sound; having much longer wavelength than light, sculpted acoustic fields can impart much larger forces and on larger objects.

In developing the instrumentation for multi-scale aerosol studies, the student will develop hybrid optical and acoustic potential landscapes for control of the aerosol flow in complex environments, as well as novel imaging methods to accurately and rapidly track each particle in the flow in 3D. This technology will have many potential applications and the student will have opportunities to explore these.

The project will have experimental, numerical and theoretical aspects and a good understanding of the following is essential: mechanics: diffraction and interference; image formation: point-spread, and optical transfer functions; excellent coding skills (Python, etc) to interface instruments and process experimental data. Additionally, the student should have good lab skills and be ready to work with both electronics and optics in the laboratory.

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to work at the cutting edge of research in opto-acoustic manipulation and imaging. There will be ample opportunity to gain valuable experience in many aspects of manipulation and microscopy and in the many fields these techniques impact.

For informal enquiries about the project, contact Dr Jonathan Nylk ([Email Address Removed])
For general enquiries about the University of Dundee, contact [Email Address Removed]

Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first or 2.1 UK honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK in a relevant discipline.

English language requirement: IELTS (Academic) score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 5.5 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s English language requirements are available online:


Step 1: Email Dr Jonathan Nylk ([Email Address Removed]) to (1) send a copy of your CV and (2) discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date).

Step 2: After discussion with Dr Nylk, formal applications can be made via UCAS Postgraduate. When applying, please follow the instructions below:

Apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Physics: Select the start date and study mode (full-time/part-time) agreed with the lead supervisor.

In the ‘provider questions’ section of the application form:
- Write the project title and ‘’ in the ‘if your application is in response to an advertisement’ box;
- Write the lead supervisor’s name and give brief details of your previous contact with them in the ‘previous contact with the University of Dundee’ box.

In the ‘personal statement’ section of the application form, outline your suitability for the project selected.

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees, project specific bench fees and living expenses via external sponsorship or self-funding.

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