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Durham University

Department of Physics

Research studentships

Positions open in new EPSRC funded Centre for Doctoral Training

A number of PHD positions will be available in the EPSRC funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Soft Matter and Functional Interfaces (SOFI CDT).

For further information visit the SOFI CDT web pages ( or contact Dr Lian Hutchings (

Astronomy Post-graduate Research Studentships

We are seeking graduate students to undertake research within our PhD and MSc programmes; the University regulations on the thesis/dissertation are outlined here.

STFC studentships: We expect to take on several STFC-funded students for a PhD degree, in addition to further students either self funded or with funding from different sources. Students will undertake full-time (or part time) cutting edge astronomical research, in addition to our post-graduate lecture courses in their first year: Astronomy and Astrophysics and Astronomical Instrumentation. More details on the application procedure and eligibilty are below. The STFC-funded PhD studentships cover course fees and living expenses for the duration of the studentship (typically 3.5 years); the eligiblility criteria for a fully funded STFC studentship is based on UK residency 3 years prior to the start of the studentship, unresticted rights to remain in the UK and be citizen of a European Union member state. STFC provides further guidelines about information and eligibility rules for STFC studentships . Applicants are required to have, or expected to gain, at least a 2.1 in an integrated MPhys or a pass in a Masters degree or a 1st class in a Bachelors degree, in physics, astrophysics or mathematics.

Given the large size of the astronomy group at Durham, each year we restrict the number of astronomy staff who offer STFC-funded PhD projects to about 10. We find that this provides a broad range of PhD projects while also making it (substantially) easier for potential students to select their preferred projects. The staff members who are likely to offer a STFC-funded PhD project this year include Prof. Alexander, Prof. Bower, Prof. Chadwick, Prof. Cole, Dr. Eke, Dr. Fumagalli, Prof. Jenkins, Prof. Lacey, Dr. Li, Dr. Massey, Prof. Morris, Prof. Smail, Prof. Theuns and Prof. Ward.

Project booklet (STFC-funded students): This booklet provides details of the STFC-funded PhD projects that are available for an October 2019 start. Shortlisted candidates for STFC studentships will be invited for interviews; see below for the interview dates this year. For other potential students please also consult our group research web pages and contact staff that you would be interested in working with.

Please Note: All applications received before January 31st 2019 will be considered in full. For further information regarding other funding opportunities available and about the Astronomy group please refer to

Advanced Instrumentation Studentship: Moisture content measurement in crops using a novel Infrared hyperspectral imager.

Applications are invited for a 3.5 year fully funded PhD research studentship in the development of novel hyperspectral instrumentation to work with Dr. Cyril Bourgenot in the Department of Physics at Durham University. The project is associated with an EPSRC UKRI Innovation fellowship. The full time studentship, includes a stipend of £14,777 per year, fees and support for research costs and conference travel.

* Specific areas of interest include: Remote sensing, Hyperspectral imaging, Spectroscopy, Precision agriculture, optics, data processing.

* Aim: The aim of this doctoral research is to design and develop a novel hyperspectral imager using freeform gratings manufactured at Durham University Centre for Advanced Instrumentation, with the objective to measure the moisture content in bare soils and crops. Based on previous research and the group heritage in spectroscopy, the PhD candidate will investigate and evaluate effective algorithms to extract the moisture spectral signature in a range of UK soils and will participate in the design and validation of an airborne demonstrator.

The EPSRC project will be supervised by Dr Cyril Bourgenot at Durham University in partnership with Dr.Paul Green, Senior Research Scientist in the Earth Observation, Climate & Optical Group at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL).

* Research environment: The work location is shared between two physical sites, one of which is in the new Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics on the University science site in Durham and the other is at the North East Technology Park (NETPark), an internationally recognised location for science and technology companies, based about ten miles away in Sedgefield, Co. Durham. On both sites, you will work within a passionate and dynamic team of researchers, engineers and post graduate students.

* Required skills: Applicants should have or expect to attain at least an upper second class integrated masters or a first class bachelor’s degree in a related subject (e.g. Physics, Engineering). We are looking for a candidate who has a passion for the application of novel optical instrument design to real world problems and who can demonstrate self-motivated ingenuity, innovation, drive and creativity. Programming skills, optical manufacturing and metrology knowledges are desirable. Good team-working and communication skills are essential.

The closing date for applications is 28th June 2019. Please submit applications electronically via the Durham University, Department of Physics website

The start date is October 1st 2019. Informal enquiries are welcome and should be directed to Dr. Cyril Bourgenot (

Due to funding requirements the post is only open to UK and EU students

PhD Studentship in Quantum Technologies: THz imaging using Rydberg Atoms.

Supervisors: Dr Kevin Weatherill and Prof. Charles Adams.

Project Description:

Terahertz (THz) technologies, generally defined as operating in the 0.1-10 THz range, bridge the gap between electronic and photonic devices. Because THz radiation passes readily through materials such as plastics, paper and cloth it can be employed in non-destructive testing. Because terahertz waves are non-ionising they is considered safe for security and biomedical applications. There is significant demand for high speed THz imaging across a range of applications but, despite ongoing efforts, fast full-field imaging remains an unfulfilled goal using conventional technologies.

Recently in Durham we have demonstrated a THz imaging system based upon efficient THz-to-optical conversion in atomic vapour, where full-field images can be collected at ultra-high speeds using conventional optical camera technology [1-3]. These Atom-based THz detectors have already been demonstrated to be faster and more sensitive than other room temperature THz sensors by orders of magnitude. This Ph.D. project will develop this technique further and apply it to fields as diverse as biomedical imaging and production-line quality control. This project is co-sponsored by industry partners (M Squared lasers).

The successful applicant will join a team within the Quantum, Light and Matter group at Durham ( During the Ph. D. the student will receive training in general skills through the QLM graduate course ( as well as project-specific skills E.g. use of frequency-stabilised lasers, image acquisition and analysis, computer control of equipment in the laboratory.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) at least an upper second class integrated masters or a first class bachelor’s degree in Physics or a related subject.

Essential Background: A strong background in physics including experience of: quantum mechanics, atomic structure and optics.

Please submit applications electronically via the Durham University website:

Informal enquiries can be made to Dr Kevin Weatherill (k.j.weatherill@durham). General enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Admissions Team (

Funding Notes:

This project is co-funded by the EPSRC Doctoral Training grant and M squared Lasers. Full fees and stipend for home students only.


“Ultra-high-speed Terahertz Imaging Using Atomic Vapour”

L. Downes, A. MacKellar, D. Whiting, C. Bourgenot, C. S. Adams and K. J. Weatherill

arXiv:1903.01308 (2019)

“Terahertz-driven phase transition applied as a room-temperature terahertz detector”

C. G. Wade, M. Marcuzzi, E. Levi, J. M. Kondo, I. Lesanovsky, C. S. Adams and K. J. Weatherill

Nature Communications, 9, 3567 (2018)

“Real-time near-field terahertz imaging with atomic optical fluorescence”

C. G. Wade, N. Sibalic, N. R. De Melo, J. M. Kondo, C. S. Adams and K. J. Weatherill

Nature Photonics, 11, 40 (2017)

Postgraduate Funding Opportunities


Postgraduate funding opportunities - find out more about scholarships available for postgraduate study.