Glass facades are at the interface between the internal and external climate and act as a key modulator between these two environments. They are therefore crucial in providing not only protection from the external environment but also comfort for the building occupants. However, more significantly their role has become one of energy control and can potentially have a substantial influence on the energy demand and consequently carbon emissions of buildings. They are therefore seen as a critical building fabric element in the retrofitting of existing building stock or the delivery of new nearly zero carbon buildings.

Recent advances have seen façade and window technologies which act as smart multifunction glazed components bringing together a range of properties such as excellent thermal insulation, energy harvesting and light transmission and control. Traditional multi-pane insulating glazing systems, which use inert gases, warm edge spacers and low emissivity coatings have reached their maximum potential for thermal performance. Further improvements are achievable with the development of a Vacuum Insulated Glazing using a narrow evacuated cavity between the glass panes to minimise heat transmission. However, their wide-scale deployment is hindered due to the requirements of a hermetic and durable edge seal. Key issues to be addressed include the ability of the seal to withstand stresses due to large temperature differentials between the indoor and outdoor environments and those imposed by atmospheric pressure acting on the glass panes or due to other significant impacts. Additionally, a low temperature seal design is required which is below the thermal tolerances of tempered glass, now mandatory for many building applications.

Other areas which require development include a suitable support pillar used to maintain separation of the glass panes under atmospheric pressure. The addition of further glass panes may also be investigated. Additional functionality of the vacuum insulated glazing which may be considered to include the use novel materials or coatings for light/energy control or the integration of suitable solar technologies for energy harvesting.  The proposed glazing systems should have applications for a range of climates and be applicable for both new and existing buildings including those where the architectural merit of the building must be maintained.  Areas such as weight reduction, ease of installation and integration (particularly for building retrofitting), and light transmission while meeting the building standards and conservation considerations for heritage buildings are essential considerations for new products and systems. The developed glazing system performance will be fully characterised using hot box calorimetry with the potential evaluation under real environmental conditions through inclusion in demonstration test sites in Europe.

Strong practical experimental research or industrial experience relating to subject discipline.  Knowledge of relevant instrumentation eg for thermal/stress measurement and analysis, data acquisition systems, experience of vacuum science and technology. Experience of heat transfer in building components including computer models for the development and prediction system performance.

Facilities for glazing fabrication and characterisation including vacuum ovens, furnaces and pumping systems, ultrasonic cleaning and soldering equipment, thermal and optical characterisation including a guarded hotbox calorimeter, heat flow meter, thermal manikin, solar simulator, infrared thermography and stress analysis equipment. In house computer models and proprietary software for system design and simulation. Other facilities include the use of onsite terraced test houses for field trialling and access to demo sites in Europe.

Collaborations exist through a national and international network of academic/research institutes and industrial partners across Europe, US, India and Australia. Currently collaborating on European H2020 funded research projects with leading industry glass and glazing producers, façade engineers, architects, public authorities and academia centres of excellence.

Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement


    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,285 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to:

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University