Measuring stress-induced birefringence at THz frequencies

Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD studentship starting in September 2016. It is suitable for well-qualified students who have (or expect to obtain) a first class degree in physics, engineering or other relevant subject. For UK applicants, the studentship will cover tuition fees as well as an annual tax-free stipend of at least £ £14,057.

Our EPSRC-funded projects currently use state-of-the-art GHz and THz imaging and spectroscopy equipment to measure sub-surface stress distributions in ceramic thermal barrier coatings (TBCs). Ceramic TBCs are increasingly used in high-temperature applications in the aerospace, automotive and energy sectors. These stress measurements are used to improve the performance of the ceramic coatings, through the development of better and more robust manufacturing methods and numerical models that permit the prediction of imminent coating failure.

The PhD will involve experimental work underpinned by a strong theoretical understanding. The successful applicant will design, construct and characterise new THz instrumentation to extend the measurements to three dimensional stress distributions and non-planar surfaces. Coatings will be imaged to detect de-bonded regions and defects. Stress-induced birefringence will be measured for the first time for a range of materials that are semi-transparent at GHz and THz frequencies in order to extend the range of potential applications.

The PhD will involve close collaboration with our partners at Rolls-Royce, Renishaw and Cranfield University to understand how stresses develop during TBC manufacture and degrade the TBCs in service. The project is based in Heriot-Watt's Optical Diagnostics Group (, working under the supervision of Prof. Andrew Moore and Dr. Peter Schemmel.

Self-motivated individuals with a strong work ethic are encouraged to apply. Some experience of GHz and THz sources and detectors is desirable, as is knowledge of Matlab, Python, Comsol or Labview. Informal enquiries may be addressed to Prof. Andrew Moore.

To apply please email your detailed CV and the names and addresses of two academic referees to Prof. Andrew J Moore at