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PhD Studentship - Microscintillator Radioactivity Detector

University of Bristol - Aerospace Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bristol
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £15,009 per annum subject to confirmation
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 17th June 2019
Closes: 15th September 2019

The project:

Traditionally, Geiger counters are used as radiation detectors; however, they are limited by their inability to determine the energy of the radiation they measure. This project involves development of a new miniature radioactivity detector, a “microscintillator” which is similar to a Geiger counter, but with the added benefit that it can measure the energy of the radioactive particle. The device is able to measure count rates, analogous to a Geiger counter, but can also differentiate between the different energies of incoming particles. It is also small and low power enough for use in airborne applications; we believe it is the smallest and cheapest detector of its type available. It has already been trialled on high-altitude balloons and UAVs, and units are being sold to researchers around the world.

The goal of this project is to carry out technical development of the instrument, such as discrimination of different particle types through simple pulse shape identification, and optimization of the detector and measurement system. The student will also use both physics and engineering software to model the device’s response and better understand and characterize its measurements in the atmosphere or in space.

The project involves a collaboration with Dr Alec Bennett at Biral, a leading developer and manufacturer of meteorological technology, to investigate commercialization of the instrument for the environmental science market. Some of the project work will be based at Biral’s research and manufacturing facility near Bristol (by arrangement). This project offers an exciting opportunity to work at the interface between physics and engineering, and gain experience in industry.

How to apply:

To apply, please submit a PhD application using our online application system ( Select PhD Aerospace Engineering on the Programme Choice page. Enter details of the studentship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form with the name of the supervisor.

Person specification:

Applicants must hold/achieve a minimum of a good (1st or 2:1) master’s degree (or international equivalent) in a physical science or engineering discipline.

If English is not your first language, please provide a recognised English language qualification at Profile E. Further information:

The successful applicant will be competent in the following:

  • Measurements and instruments
  • Basic electronics
  • Radioactivity measurement (desirable)


  • Full UK/EU (EU applicants who have been resident in the UK for 3 years prior to 1st September 2019) PhD tuition fees
  • EU nationals resident in the EU may also apply but will only qualify for PhD tuition fees.


Informal enquiries, email Dr. Karen Aplin or

Dr. Alec Bennett

General enquiries, email

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