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Funded PhD Opportunity

Self-diagnostic microwave sensors for non-destructive testing and evaluation

Subject: Engineering


Main goal and summary of the project Non-destructive testing and evaluation is an important scientific and engineering method to assess the properties of materials and structures without compromising their integrity. Microwave sensing is a novel direction in non-destructive testing relying on the ability of microwaves to interact strongly with various materials, including man-made composite and polymer materials and natural materials like human tissues. The main goal of this project is to develop a completely novel class of self-diagnostic microwave sensors that can be used for highly accurate, real-time non-destructive testing in aerospace, automotive and construction engineering and industrial applications and could potentially be applied for high-resolution biomedical imaging. This goal will be achieved through theoretical and experimental work involving state-of-the-art electronics and microwave technology to create advanced sensing solutions.

Project background and scientific basis Microwave sensing is based on sending interrogating electromagnetic signal towards the material or structure under test and collecting the scattered response signal. This signal contains information on the physical, mechanical, chemical or geometrical properties of the material or structure under test which can be analysed using mathematical data processing.

In this project, several technological challenges will be solved: development of electronic sensing platform supporting sensors auto-calibration, auto-diagnostic operation and seamless wireless connectivity to data processing unit; development of advanced imaging and non-destructive testing algorithms and software. Solution of these challenges should pave the way for this sensing technology into the industrial applications in aerospace and automotive industry including monitoring of the composite materials, early defect finding in aircraft structures and engines and biomedical imaging.

Project organisation and cooperation

The project supervision team is formed by academics with interdisciplinary backgrounds in electronics and composite materials engineering.  The supervision team has a very successful track record of academic and industrially-led R&D and research grant portfolio reflected in more than 100 research publications in major international journals.

The PhD researcher will be developing sensor technology  solutions and test this technology using materials provided by the NIACE Centre in Belfast and external partners: the Welding Institute and Haydale specialising in composite materials engineering.

Essential criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £14,777 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 14,777 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 18 February 2019

Interview Date
March 2019


Jordanstown campus

Jordanstown campus
The largest of Ulster's campuses

Contact supervisor




Other supervisors


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