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PhD in Physics and Astronomy: Wee-g: a wideband Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Sensor for applications in Gravity Surveying and Gravitational Wave Astronomy

College of Science and Engineering

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Dr G Hammond , Dr Christopher Messenger No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The Institute for Gravitational research at the University of Glasgow ( is an international leader in developing hardware/data analysis for gravitational wave detectors and high sensitivity gravity/acceleration sensors. We currently have a fully funded position for a UK student to undertake an STFC CASE industrial studentship, partnering with the survey company Bridgeporth (

The group, under the leadership of Prof. Hammond, has developed a precision MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical Sensor) gravimeter, “Wee-g”. Wee-g is highly novel and the world’s first MEMS gravimeter (R.P. Middlemiss et al., Nature 531, 2016) which was able to show sufficient sensitivity and stability to monitor the Earth tides: elastic deformations in the Earth due to the tidal potential of the Moon and the Sun. Since then, the team have been working on commercialising the technology and developing a field prototype, engaging with industries in the areas of oil & mineral prospecting, environmental monitoring and defence & security.

The device is fabricated in partnership with Glasgow spin-out Kelvin Nanotechnology (KNT), within the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre, and utilises an FPGA readout to monitor both the device and tilt/temperature environmental channels. This system is undergoing field trials in 2021, with the aim to deploy 20 units onto the side of Mt Etna in 2021/22, for the world’s first gravity imaging array on a volcano.

Analysing data from arrays of gravimeters has never been done before, so our methodology will be to undertake side-side field trials with Bridgeporth (our industry partner), where data from their single device can be compared to multiple MEMS “pixels”. We will deploy multiple MEMS sensors over a region and optimise the array for spatial and time-lapse surveys, to image underlying gravity anomalies, take data at a higher rate to extract seismic background noise more efficiently, and applying wavelet analysis to notch out seismic noise. We will harness Institute for Gravitational research expertise in Bayesian inference & machine learning to identify and learn; instrumental drift via switching instrument location, temperature sensitivity, and sensitivity to external seismic noise, to optimise the data returned. A further innovative opportunity is installation of devices in the STFC Boulby facility and LIGO sites to study long term seismic and gravity changes.

The collaboration is made up of leaders in the field of MEMS/gravitational wave hardware development, Bayesian and Machine learning expertise, and real-world survey experience. This unique mix of skills is essential to be successful in such a challenging but innovative project. This work will provide a paradigm shift in opening new gravity surveying markets, and new opportunities for multi-pixel MEMS gravity inversion/imaging

We are looking for enthusiastic PhD candidates who are keen to engage with both the experimental and data analysis components of the project.


How to Apply: Please refer to the following website for details on how to apply:

Funding Notes

The PhD is funded via an STFC CASE Industrial studentship and is available for HOME (UK) students
Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK applicants for 3.5 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (estimated £15, 609, for Session 2021-22).
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