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PhD Studentship: In High-Performance Drive Inverter for Ultra Fast Electric Machines

UCL - Department of Mechanical Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: London
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £17,609 per annum
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 15th June 2021
Closes: 10th August 2021
Reference: 1877111

The electrification of road transport plays a crucial and growing role in the achievement of UK decarbonisation targets, energy security and efficiency, and sustainable economic growth. In this regard, Fuel cells are growing in popularity throughout the E-mobility industry. Fuel cells require a constant supply of pressurized air, for which high-speed turbo-compressors with air bearings are an ideal choice for reducing size and ensuring oil-free operation for the lifetime of the container. However, the inverter driving the electric motor of the turbo compressor will not scale down with increasing speed, leading to a considerable. In addition, the existing solutions do not have satisfactory efficiency, reliability or power density. To address key challenges facing the drive inverter of a high-speed motor drive, a technological breakthrough on the drive inverter is necessary. 

The aim of this PhD project is to develop, build, and test a highly efficient and compact integrated inverter drive for a high-speed compressor for fuel cell air supply. Development of a novel power electronic topology combined with utilising emerging high-bandgap power semiconductor devices (SiC and GaN), and novel thermal cooling technologies (microchannel cooling) can result in reduced inverter size, increased inverter efficiency, improved output current quality, and reduced motor losses. 

Research Objectives 

The specific project objectives are: 

To create the topological model of a novel multilevel inverter to drive a high-speed electrical motor with specific specification, i.e., 20kW, 400V, 150kRPM. 

To design and build a highly optimised 20kW integrated inverter drive in order to experimentally evaluate its performance under all operating conditions. 

Full validation of the technology with its performance and economics proven and optimised. 

Exploitation of the project outcomes and technology translation through close collaboration with project partner, Control Techniques Dynamics, aiming to commercialise the technology.

Studentship Description

Successful candidates will join an interdisciplinary team with substantial industrial engagement and academic collaborations, as such they will be able to continue their career in this exciting field delivering future enabling technologies for the automotive industry.

Person Specification

Applicant should have, or expect to achieve, a master’s degree in engineering, computer science, or a closely-related discipline, awarded with first-class or upper second-class (2:1) honours (or equivalent). The successful candidate should have strong self-motivation and dedicated passion for research, in addition to the willingness for team-working and the ability to deliver research outcomes to meet deadlines. 

The successful candidate requires having and developing background knowledge in the following areas: 

Power electronics and electromagnetics 

Control and optimisation techniques 

Finite element analysis and programming 

Practical skills with building and testing electronic circuits


This studentship is open to UK, EU, or overseas students. 

Eligible applicants should first contact Dr Mehdi Baghdadi ( quoting the job reference. Please enclose a one-page statement outlining suitability for the project and two pages CV (including contact details of two referees). The supervisory team will arrange interviews for short-listed candidates. After interview, the successful candidate will be given instructions to formally apply online via the UCL website. For further information, see

Contact name

Dr Mehdi Baghdadi

Contact details

UCL Taking Action for Equality

Closing Date

10 Aug 2021

Latest time for the submission of applications


Interview date

20th August 2021

Studentship Start Date

1st October 2021

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