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Optoacoustic (laser ultrasound) sensing for remote, chemical process monitoring

Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering

About the Project

Start date: October 2021 

Duration: 3.5 years

 The Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde are inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship, in the field of optoacoustic (laser ultrasound) sensing.


The anticipated research outcome will be remote, optically excited surface acoustic wave based sensors with the capability to observe real-time chemical events at challenging environments with relevant sensitivity levels and at low cost. This is a breakthrough technology and using it for chemical sensing will also open the door to environmental, healthcare and biomedical applications, where remote ultrasonic sensing/monitoring are needed in sterilised or corrosive environments. It will be able to compete commercially against established but much more complex optical based sensing techniques.

 The optoacoustic sensors will use lasers to generate and detect ultrasound and will be used for sensing in gas and liquid phase. Applications include differentiation of liquids (e.g. wine) based on their volatile compounds or measuring antibody-antigen interactions (biosensors). Achieving real-time, remote ultrasonic sensing will allow observation of events such as binding of proteins, with a versatile and non-destructive technique, enabling chemical and bio- engineers.


The core research objectives within this project are:

•            Development of novel, remote ultrasonic technique for real-time chemical process monitoring.

•            Demonstration of the new technology in challenging environments (high temperatures, corrosive, sterilised) where current techniques fail.


We will design and build a laser based sensing system on facilities available at the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering of Strathclyde. A range of representative processes will be identified through industrial engagement for demonstration of chemical process monitoring. Our ambition is to reach real-time process monitoring of multiple chemical events happening simultaneously and this will be achieved by dynamically changing the ultrasonic response of the laser based sensing system. This project is highly interdisciplinary, with the supervision team based in the Electronic & Electrical and the Biomedical Engineering departments. These activities will equip the candidate with cutting-edge and highly desirable experimental and analysis techniques.

 Research environment

You will become member of a dynamic, supportive and collaborative research team of innovators and researchers within the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering. There is a multi-disciplinary and diverse research community hosted at Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre. You will have extensive interactions with academic and industrial research collaborators.

 Required skills

We are seeking candidates with a minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) first degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Chemical/bio-chemical Engineering, Chemistry/Bio-chemistry, Physics. Enthusiasm for research and innovation is essential. Excellent report writing and presentation skills are desirable. Experience in experimental research and/or experimental chemistry skills would be appreciated. Knowledge in Matlab/LabView is an asset.

Funding and eligibility

The post is supported by a bursary and fees (at the UK student rate) provided by the EPSRC.

To be considered for the project, candidates must:

•            Possess at least an upper second (2.1) UK BEng Hons or postgraduate Masters qualification, or its international equivalent, in a relevant engineering or science related subject.

•            To be eligible for a fully funded UK Home studentship you must be a UK national resident in the EEA, Switzerland, the UK or Gibraltar for the last three years. EU/EEA of Swiss candidates with ‘settled status’ in the UK (having lived in the UK for five years) and ‘pre-settled status’ in the UK (having lived in the UK/EEA/Gibraltar/Switzerland for a minimum of three years) are eligible for funding. EU and non-EU candidates with indefinite leave to remain or enter the UK are also eligible for funding. If a student does not meet the criteria above, they will be classed as an international student. International students are permitted to self-fund the difference between the home and international fee rates. More information on eligibility here:


If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Theodosia Stratoudaki () or Dr Helen Mulvana (). Please refer to the PhD studentship title on your email.

 How to apply

Qualified applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervisory team Dr Theodosia Stratoudaki () or Dr Helen Mulvana (), sending their CV, academic transcript and a covering letter, highlighting their interests and suitability for the project. Please refer to the PhD studentship title on your email. Further details can be found here: Strathclyde_PostGraduate_Opportunities

Funding Notes

This is an EPSRC funded studentship and funding is available to UK, EU and non-EU who are eligible for UK Home studentship. The funding is for 3.5 years with an annual tax-free stipend of around £15,600, support with travel costs (£1,500 per year) and UK level university fees.

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