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The fabrication and application of high temperature materials using acoustic levitation

   School of Physics

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  Dr A Barnes, Dr James Drewitt  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The project: The fabrication and application of high temperature materials using acoustic levitation.

Glasses are used in a wide range of technological applications for example, in windows, fibre optic cables, lasers and sensors. However, many applications are limited by the difficulty in forming the glasses in the first place and avoiding the introduction impurities in  their fabrication. In this project you will apply newly developed acoustic levitation methods to produce novel glasses for future applications.

A wide range of technical glasses are formed from high melting temperature oxides such as SiO2, Al2O3, and  Ga2O3 for which their morphology, their phase composition and their purities are of importance. When fabricating such glasses in crucibles contamination from the crucible and impurities is difficult to avoid. In this Ph.D. project you will use containerless processing techniques, in particular acoustic levitation and laser heating methods, to fabricate high-purity oxide spheres and to characterise their thermal, physical, chemical and optical properties. Acoustic levitation will be accomplished using our recently developed acoustic levitation system that is capable for levitating objects with densities in excess of 10 g∙cm-3 with radii up to ~ 1 mm. In this way levitated materials can be heated to temperatures in excess of 2500 K using a CO2 laser heating system and rapidly quenched under containerless conditions. The PhD student will actively participate in the improvement of the existing acoustic levitation prototypes. This project is in partnership with Johnson Matthey PLC. A particular interest from Johnson Matthey is to utilise the levitation system for characterising droplet/particle drying and specifically both the kinetics and the morphology evolution of laser heated droplets/particles. This will provide fundamental insight into spray drying processes which are intensively used in the manufacturing of many JM products.

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Candidate requirements: 

Candidates should have completed an undergraduate degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) in Physics, or in a related Physical Science. The position will suitable for a candidate with an interest in condensed matter physics (diffraction and spectroscopy), acoustics and Molecular Dynamics/ Monte Carlo simulation.

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at Please select ‘Physics (PhD)’ on the Programme Choice page. You will be prompted to enter details of the studentship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form. Please make sure you include the title of studentship and the contact supervisor in your Personal Statement.


Dr. Adrian C Barnes ([Email Address Removed])

Dr. James Drewitt ( [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This studentship is fully funded under the EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership. Funding will cover tuition fees at the UK student level and an annual stipend for up to three and half years at the standard UKRI stipend rate (currently £15,609 per annum for 2021/22).

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