PhD in Mechanical Engineering Sensors to inform and enable wireless networks (SENTIENT)

The successful candidate will be working within the Institute of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. The Institute’s close involvement with industry ensures their research has both relevance and meaning. The focus on applied research enables collaboration with some of the world’s most renowned engineering companies.

The overall project of which this PhD forms part, aims to develop a wireless structural health monitoring system based on Acoustic Emission (AE) for operation in an aircraft environment, powered by energy harvested from thermal gradients, vibration etc within an aircraft.

The aerospace sector is essential to the economies of the UK and Europe, providing an important contribution to both GDP and employment. This research programme aims to provide a major leap towards enabling aerospace manufacturers to retain market position by meeting increasing demand for low cost air transport whilst minimising environmental effects and maintaining levels of safety. By addressing some of the issues that have prevented implementation of structural health monitoring (SHM) systems for primary aircraft structures the move from routine maintenance to a ‘maintenance on demand’ strategy becomes feasible, resulting in lower maintenance costs, greater availability and ultimately lighter weight structures reducing fuel costs and emissions.

The project will develop a standalone SHM System for critical aircraft components. The system will scavenge energy from ambient sources such as thermal gradients, and communicate data wirelessly to a central diagnostic unit, delivering significant reductions in cabling weight, and providing a flexible solution with interchangeable sensing nodes.

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The proposed research aims to provide a fully integrated approach to SHM involving two areas of immense significance for future aircraft systems, namely power supply issues (to be addressed via energy harvesting) and secondary system weight issues (to be addressed via distributed wireless technology).

The sensors will be integrated into a wireless system, transferring data to a centralised diagnostic unit to enable the detection and quantification of degradation in composite and metallic structures (delamination, fibre breakage, corrosion, fatigue) enabling repair work at an early stage, extending the lifecycle of high added value materials and reducing waste. Incorporation of these sensors into a self forming, self healing wireless network will enable a faster, more flexible installation but requires accurate synchronisation of sensors for damage location.

More information on the project partners and activities that will form the outline of the PhD project are available on the website via the apply link below.

Start Date: 1 January 2014


The award will cover full UK/EU tuition fees. Eligible non-EU candidates must fund the remainder of the overseas fee. In addition to fees coverage, the successful candidate will receive a doctoral stipend matching the UK Research Council national minimum (£13,726 p.a. in 2013/14, updated each year)


Residency: Open to students of any nationality without restrictions (UK/EU and International)

Academic Criteria: First-class honours degree or a 2.1 plus a postgraduate Masters degree (or their equivalents) in a relevant subject (engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, or other physical sciences). Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language (IELTS 6.5 or equivalent).

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Application Deadline: 20th December 2013For further information and details on how to apply, please click on the Apply button below.

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