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Real-time Operating System for Power Electronics Control

   Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering

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  Dr Yunjie Gu  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the University of Bath URSA competition. Please see the URSA webpage for more information.


Power electronics are widely used in electric vehicles and renewable power generation.  A power electronic system is usually controlled by embedded microprocessors like ARM cortex or TI C2000 processors. Software development on these embedded microprocessors often starts on bare-metal without an operating system (OS), which means that developers have to go from the very fundamentals (hardware drivers, run-time libraries, and communication protocols) all the way up to the application layer (control algorithms, file systems, and inputs/outputs). This involves tremendously repeated works and results in non-standard ad-hoc protocols that hamper whole-system integration and inter-operation. On the other hand, conventional embedded OSs (such as Linux) cannot meet the hard real-time requirement (with a latency of less than a microsecond) of power electronic control.

The recent development of real-time OS (RTOS) provides a promising solution to address this dilemma. An RTOS has a preemptive micro-kernel designed for low-latency control tasks, and yet provides most of the system services needed, to avoid repeated and non-standard codes. State-of-the-art RTOSs, like freeRTOS and RT-Thread, are designed for latency within a millisecond, which is still too slow for power electronics, especially for SiC and GaN devices with a switching frequency as high as 200KHz. The target of this PhD project is to research and develop an RTOS that can meet the hard real-time requirement of power electronics by patching on a RTOS. This involves optimisation of the real-time task scheduler and context switching strategy to further reduce the OS overhead for time critical tasks, at the price of curtailing part of the OS services for such tasks. A methodology for trade-off between low latency and rich services will be established. The PhD project will be the initiation of an open-source RTOS for power electronics called OpenPE, which will be a “seed” to grow into a forest by community-based development, that is, attracting contribution from the whole power electronic community and serving the entire industry in return.

Candidate Requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent). A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Applicants should have a strong background in computer system or software engineering, and have basic knowledge on operating system kernels, including scheduling, preemption, and synchronisation. Knowledge on power electronics, such as inverters and motor control, is helpful but not mandatory.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement.

Enquiries and Applications

Informal enquiries are welcomed and should be directed to Dr Yunjie Gu -

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Electronic and Electrical Engineering

When completing the form, please identify your application as being for the URSA studentship competition in Section 3 Finance (question 2) and quote the project title and lead supervisor’s name in the ‘Your research interests’ section. 

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for funding, you must qualify as a Home student. The eligibility criteria for Home fee status are detailed and too complex to be summarised here in full; however, as a general guide, the following applicants will normally qualify subject to meeting residency requirements: UK nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland), Irish nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland), those with Indefinite Leave to Remain and EU nationals with pre-settled or settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme). This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Additional information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage, on the GOV.UK website and on the UKCISA website.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We value a diverse research environment and aim to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We welcome and encourage applications from under-represented groups.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.


Automotive Engineering; Electrical Engineering; Electronic Engineering; Software Engineering

Funding Notes

Candidates may be considered for an URSA studentship, tenable for 3.5 years. Funding covers tuition fees at the Home rate, a £1000 per annum training support fee, and a stipend at the UKRI rate (£15,609 p/a in 2021/22).
An URSA studentship only covers tuition fees at the Home tuition fee rate, and so students eligible for Overseas tuition fee status are not eligible to apply. Exceptional Overseas students (e.g. with a UK Masters Distinction or international equivalent) who are interested in the project should contact the intended supervisor in the first instance, to discuss the possibility of applying for additional funding.
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