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Optics-based distributed magnetic field and temperature sensor

   Robinson Research Institute

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  Dr Grant Williams, Dr S Chong  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

A fully funded PhD scholarship is available for researching and developing composites and devices for fibre-optic based magnetic field and temperature sensors at the Robinson Research Institute [1], Victoria University of Wellington, Lower Hutt, New Zealand.

The key novel idea is to investigate and use magneto-chromic composites for the detection of the magnetic field where a magnetic field leads to a colour change in the composite. This is a new research area, and you can potentially lead this research field through the development of new composites as well as a fundamental understanding of the underlying physics. The applications included distributed magnetic field and temperature sensing for greater reliability of power generation, distribution, and electric transport systems. 

The thesis work will involve making the components for magneto-chromic composites via thin film fabrication and solid-state synthesis. They will then be studied using methods such as X-ray diffraction, electron microscopy, optical, and magnetic measurements. All the equipment is located at the Robinson Research Institute [1] and the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences [2], Victoria University of Wellington, including fully equipped synthesis and optics laboratories, and New Zealand’s only high field (up to 14 T) magnetic and transport measurement systems. Access to additional resources is available through our affiliation with the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology [3]. The magneto-chromic composites will be tested by coupling to optical fibre systems and the results will also be used to develop models and a better understanding of how an applied magnetic field leads to a colour change. 

This PhD project is part of a New Zealand government funded interdisciplinary Smart Idea on “Optics-based distributed magnetic field and temperature sensor for enhanced power infrastructure reliability” that involves physicists, chemists, and electrical engineers.  

There is also the opportunity for the candidate to work with researchers from other parts of New Zealand, and travel abroad to attend international conferences (subject to COVID-19 travel restrictions)


Applicants should have a degree equivalent to the 4-year Physics (Honours) degree in New Zealand, with 1st class Honours, or an MSc or postgraduate Diploma with high grades (i.e., GPA > 3.6/4). We are seeking a highly motivated person with an excellent academic record, a good understanding of physics, and the ability to work well in a team. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington and applicants should ensure that they can satisfy the English language requirements [4]. 

How to Apply

Please send an email to Prof. Grant Williams ([Email Address Removed]) and Dr. Shen Chong ([Email Address Removed]) with PhD scholarship in “Optics-based distributed magnetic field and temperature sensor” in the subject line. Please include the following information,

·        A full curriculum vitae, including your university transcripts

·        A statement detailing why you are interested in this project

·        The names of at least two people who are prepared to act as referees

·        Evidence of your English language ability

·        Your expected starting date

For more info about applying for PhD Scholarships at Robinson Research Institute please see our Postgraduate Page.

Important - application steps and information

For applicants who are not NZ Citizens or Permanent Residents, we recommend you check the NZ Immigration website for updates related to Covid19 restrictions on entry to New Zealand:

Funding Notes

This PhD project is part of a newly funded research programme on ‘Optics-based distributed magnetic field and temperature sensor for enhanced power infrastructure reliability’, which involved researchers from Victoria University of Wellington and University of Boudreaux.
The successful PhD applicant will receive a stipend of $30,000 per annum for 3 years, as well as payment of all university tuition fees.


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