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Micro Vacuum Systems: investigating the fundamental science and engineering required to develop microscale vacuum systems

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Resonant Micro-sensors based on vibrating beams require vacuum to operate at the highest sensitivity, as viscous damping dominates when they are in air. These resonant sensors can be used for biological and chemical detection and in real scenarios need to be exposed to atmospheric pressure to sense the chemical in the air, i.e. in breath analysis for detecting disease markers the sensor must be exposed to the patients breath. Thus it would be advantageous to be able to rapidly change from atmospheric pressure to high vacuum; changing the sensor from sampling to high sensitivity measurement mode. However vacuum systems are many times bigger than the actual sensors and use significantly more power, making the micro-sensor a macro-sensor system. Small pumping systems are available but they are still orders of magnitude larger than the sensing component. It would be a real advantage to have a small low power vacuum system that was closer to the size of the actual sensor, creating a truly miniaturised sensor system. To achieve this it is essential to develop a miniaturised vacuum pumping system. Some micro vacuum technology already exists but there is nothing that is the analogue of the turbo molecular pump.

This PhD will therefore investigate the fundamental science and engineering required to develop microscale vacuum systems that operates in the turbomolecular pump range of pressures using momentum transfer to pump gasses. It will specifically research the application of MEMS resonators to pumping and there will be the opportunity to apply finite element analysis using COMSOL Multiphysics to the design of microsystems as well as developing skills in microfabrication technologies.

Funding Notes

For excellent applicants (very good first degree), there is the potential for funding for Home (UK) / EU students that will cover fees and a stipend of £14,400 un-taxed. Overseas students are welcome to apply but should note that they will be required to be either completely self-funding, or if awarded a scholarship, they should be able to pay for their living expenses.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?
Mechanical Engineering

FTE Category A staff submitted: 21.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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