PhD Studentship in Modelling of Light Scattering by Airborne Particles

University of Hertfordshire - Centre for Atmospheric and Instrumentation Research

The School of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics at the University of Hertfordshire offers a PhD studentship in applied optics. The School is home to over 50 academic staff and 40 research students and hosts two major research centres: the Centre for Atmospheric and Instrumentation Research (CAIR; and the Centre for Astrophysics Research (CAR). The studentship would be based in CAIR and would be funded for a period of three years, covering tuition fees and providing an annual stipend of £14,296 for UK or EU candidates. Non-EU applicants will have to contribute £6,250 p.a. towards their tuition fees.

Outline of the project:

The Light Scattering and Radiative Properties group specializes in the interaction between atmospheric particles, such as cirrus ice crystals, and solar radiation, and the significant impact these particles play in global climate.

Exact methods for calculating single particle scattering properties, like the discrete dipole approximation and T-matrix, are only applicable up to certain size parameters, which is due to the high computational demand. At University of Hertfordshire we have been developing physical optics models which help to bridge the gap between the applicability of exact electromagnetic methods and geometric optics (

This project aims to expand the applicability of these methods to more complex particle shapes, including surface roughness, and smaller size parameters. Our physical optics models are used to compute single particle scattering parameters which serve as input for radiative transfer calculations. They also assist the interpretation of observational light scattering data, e.g., from the Small Ice Detector (SID) instruments developed at the Particle Instruments & Diagnostics Group at the Centre for Atmospheric and Instrumentation Research.

Applicants should hold a good first degree (equivalent to at least UK 2:1 honours) in physics, mathematics or a related discipline. A good knowledge of optics and a strong mathematical and/or computational background would be of advantage. The closing date for applications is Friday October 28th 2016.

For informal enquiries please contact Dr. E. Hesse ( To apply and obtain further information on studentships, please contact Mrs Lorraine Nicholls ( or Emma Thorogood (

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South East England