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PhD Studentship: UKRI EPSRC CDT EngD Scholarship: The Use of Meta-surfaces and Functional Coatings to Improve Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) Anti-Jam

Swansea University - Engineering

Qualification Type: Professional Doctorate
Location: Swansea
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: £22,000 p.a.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 25th January 2023
Closes: 3rd March 2023

Sponsor Company: MBDA

Funding Provider: UKRI EPSRC CDT Studentship

Project start date:  

  • 1 October 2023

Project Background:

Satellite Navigation, often referred to as Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), is a key technology in the 21st century, underpinning numerous industries and playing a vital role in Aerospace applications.

Despite its many benefits, GNSS is increasingly vulnerable to hostile interference (jamming) and this poses a significant risk to commercial activities, critical industries and defence applications. The most common form of GNSS jamming protection is the use of phased array antennas to steer antenna nulls towards jammers (as well as antenna beams to satellites) which result in lower received jamming power. The success of these technologies is limited by the large sizes required to implement them. Typically, GNSS anti-jam antennas require multiple antennas separated by approximately half the wavelength (approximately 10cm) and this quickly results in large subsystems that are difficult to integrate into wider systems. Reducing the inter-element spacing results in negative consequences to the performance of the antenna system; typically by increasing the mutual coupling between antenna elements.

The use of meta-surfaces has the potential to reduce the mutual coupling of antenna elements and thus allow GNSS Anti-jam antennas to be produced with a much smaller overall footprint. This would unlock the capability to implement the systems in smaller space envelopes (e.g. autonomous cars) but also allow more elements to be installed within a given area which could increase resultant anti-jam performance. 

Project Aims:

This project will explore different techniques to apply meta-surfaces to GNSS antennas (and RF antennas more widely) to address the integration issues that large arrays have on industrial and aerospace applications. Different meta-surfaces will be explored to assess their relative suitability for use with GNSS signals and other key RF subsystems such as communication and guidance sensors. The desired outcome will be the identification, design and proof of concept of a meta-surface integrated within a GNSS antenna array that demonstrates improved performance at small inter-element spacing’s compared to conventional antenna arrays.

The project will have the ability to explore opportunistic research avenues that emerge throughout the project duration. Research into functional coatings and materials that can reduce or dampen phenomena such as surface waves is one such example. The desired outcome from this will be innovative techniques to reduce the overall RF power received at an RF subsystem in an (e.g.) airborne platform.

Eligibility 

Candidates must normally hold at minimum (or expect to obtain by the start date) an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level in in Materials Engineering, Electrical & Electronic Engineering or other suitable background (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University), or a combination of degree and equivalent experience to the same level.

English Language requirements: If applicable – IELTS 6.5 overall (with at least 6.0 in each individual component) or Swansea recognised equivalent. 

Due to the nature of the industry, this scholarship is open to UK nationals only.

For more information on eligibility, please visit our website.

Funding Details

This studentship covers a full award and includes a tax-free stipend (currently £22,000 per annum) and tuition fees, each for a period of four years, subject to meeting University progression requirements.  

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