Fully funded PhD Studentship: Advanced Detection of Improvised Explosive Device Components

Cranfield University

Application Deadline: 3 September 2017
Start Date: 2 October 2017 / 5 February 2018
Duration of award: 3 years

Programme Outline

Improvised explosive devices usually contain electrical components alongside the explosive, ranging from simple batteries and wires to more complex components for control circuits. This PhD is part of Cranfield’s general work to address current and potential IED technology and will focus on novel phenomena to sense and locate capacitors in the circuitry.  The candidate will work as part of a small team. 

This PhD will explore a range of innovative non-contact methods to determine the charge state of a capacitor inside a container. The project will combine theory and experiment and will require creative thinking. It will begin with a review of detectable phenomena associated with electrical charge, especially charge effects on materials found in common capacitors and potential methods to evaluate them.

The PhD will likely pursue the most promising method(s) experimentally. The range of potential experimental methods extends from field and electrical effects to physical and chemical effects.

Initial experiments will be performed using a combination of standard laboratory techniques and large scale facilities in other laboratories, with a view to determining:

  • Sensitivity and specificity
  • The effects of different container materials and different types of capacitor
  • Whether different methods can be combined to improve the overall reliability
  • Whether the position of a charged capacitor can be identified within a container


Sponsored by a major UK defence contractor, this studentship will provide a generous tax free bursary of £17,000 p.a.* and includes tuition fees for three and a half years.

*The candidate would ideally be a UK national but EU nationals will be considered.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline, including physics, materials science or chemistry. The ideal candidate should also have some understanding of simulation and numerical modelling. They should be self-motivated and have good communication skills for regular interaction with the sponsor.

About the sponsor

Cranfield Defence and Security (CDS) is a School of Cranfield University that offers unique educational opportunities to the Defence and Security sectors of both public and private sector organisations. We are based at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom at Shrivenham in Oxfordshire.


Dr David Lane and Dr Matthew Healy, Cranfield Forensic Institute.

Application and start date

Application deadline 3 September 2017. Start Date 2 October 2017 / 5 February 2018. Reference number CDS0002

For further information please contact: Dr David Lane, E: d.w.lane@cranfield.ac.uk, T: (0) 1793 785226

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