EPSRC CDT in Metamaterials/Prosperity Partnership TEAM-A (PhD studentship): New materials and structures that control the propagation of acoustic radiation

University of Exeter - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

The studentship is part of the UK’s Centre of Doctoral Training in Metamaterials (XM2) and the Prosperity Partnership programme Tailored Electromagnetic & Acoustic Materials Accelerator (TEAM-A), based in the Departments of Physics and Engineering on the Streatham Campus in Exeter.  Its aim is to undertake world-leading research, while training scientists and engineers with the relevant research skills and knowledge, and professional attributes for industry and academia.

The studentships is of value around £90,000, which includes £11,000 towards the research project (travel, consumables, equipment etc.), tuition fees, and an annual, tax-free stipend of approximately £14,500 per year for UK nationals.

Statement of Research

Joint supervisors: Dr David Horsell, Dr Steve Hepplestone
Industry partner: QinetiQ

To develop novel acoustic sources by harnessing thermoacoustic effects. Improved acoustic sources are required for ultrasonic sensing (e.g. the Ultracane); medical scanners, security systems and multimedia dislay technology. The latter provides an example of the need to integrate optical and acoustic technologies: flat-panel displays grow thinner and more flexible, but the sound sources still generally rely on moving coil speakers invented a century ago. Within the last year, companies such as LG ('Crystal Sound') and Sony ('Acoustic Surface') have prototyped OLED displayed that are directly vibrated (again, by moving coil drivers) to produce sound from the whole screen surface. However, a far better and more practical solution would be to generate sound without any moving parts. Thermoacoustic generation becomes more efficient as the driving frequency increases (currently experimentally demonstrated up to 1MHz) making it particularly suited to ultrasonic applications. Nanomaterials such as graphene-based materials have shown great promise, but have been limited to laboratory based demonstrations.

In this project the successful applicant will build upon recent work at Exeter, which has shown that it is possible to generate, amplift, mix and modulate sound in a single device, to demonstrate: underwater sound sources of high acoustic efficiency; phased-arrays for ultrasonic beam-forming and directivity; and optic-fibre-based sources.


This award provides annual funding to cover UK tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay UK tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £14,500 per year tax-free stipend. The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 3 and half years of full-time study to commence in September 2018.

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South West England