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PhD Studentship: Diamond Magnetometry for Finding Corrosion in Steel to Help with Nuclear Decommissioning

University of Warwick - Department of Physics

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Coventry
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £15,285 per annum
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 22nd December 2020
Expires: 22nd March 2021

Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD studentship starting from October 2021 in the Physics Department at the University of Warwick. The project is led by Gavin Morley and is funded by the University of Warwick

Nitrogen-vacancy (NV-) centres in diamond have isolated electron spins which can store quantum information at room temperature for over one millisecond. These qubits can be sensitively read out optically allowing diamond magnetometers to be built. These are robust, solid state devices that work in a broad range of environments with high sensitivity. The sensing of weak magnetic fields has applications in non-destructive testing (NDT), navigation and medical diagnosis. We have recently built the world’s most sensitive fibre-coupled diamond magnetometer [1]. This is based on the optically-detected magnetic resonance of NV- centres in diamond. We have now further adapted this to be able to find structural damage in steel for NDT [2].

Diamond is radiation hard so the sensor head of our magnetometer could be too which would enable it to be used in radioactive environments. Working with the National Nuclear Lab (NNL) we want to develop our prototype so that it is useful for finding corrosion in radioactive waste storage and the steel used to build nuclear power stations. In this PhD project we will adapt the sensor head to make it radiation hard and test this. In addition, we will improve the magnetometry to enhance the steel scanning performance for real applications: this will include boosting the magnetic sensitivity (to allow a greater distance between the sensor and the steel), speeding up the data collection, and increasing the long-term stability by dealing with temperature drifts.

The successful applicant will work as part of a vibrant team and will learn to build cutting-edge devices combining lasers, optical fibres, microwaves, RF, electronics, magnets, software and diamonds. Our lab in Warwick also benefits from several other NV- experiments for quantum science and quantum technology including levitated nanodiamonds and work towards a quantum computer both at room temperature and in helium cryostats. The successful applicant will join a community of more than 10 academics and over 20 PhD students in the departments of Physics, Chemistry, Engineering and the Warwick Manufacturing Group all researching different aspects of diamond science and technology. Warwick has excellent facilities for characterisation and processing of diamond and a strong record of successful collaboration with industry.

The project is mainly experimental and includes collaboration with academic and industrial partners. A three-month stay at NNL in Cumbria will provide invaluable experience of the nuclear industry. Obtaining BPSS clearance (baseline personnel security standard) will be necessary to allow unescorted access whilst on site at NNL. Usually being a UK or EU national is sufficient for this. You should have obtained, or be about to obtain a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree in Physics, Engineering or a related subject. Applicants with equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK will also be considered. The funding for this studentship comes from EPSRC through an ICASE award.

For further information please contact Gavin Morley (

  • [1] L. Patel et a!., Physical Review Applied 14, 044058 (2020).
  • [2] Q. Zhou et a!., arXiv:2011.02459 (in press at Physical Review Applied) (2020).
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