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Research Studentship in Electrical Engineering

Project: Stimuli-Responsive Materials for Reconfigurable Arrays

4-year D.Phil. studentship 

EPSRC Industrial CASE Studentship with Toshiba Europe

Supervisor: Prof. Justin P. Coon and Prof. Stephen Morris

This studentship is jointly offered by the University of Oxford and Toshiba Europe under the EPSRC Industrial CASE award scheme.

Background: The electromagnetic propagation environment is traditionally viewed as a hindrance to good performance in wireless communication and sensing systems, since it distorts transmitted signals in an uncontrollable way.  Ideally, one would be able to engineer a way to exert a level of control over such environments, or at least the signals that propagate through them, in order to optimize system performance.  Antenna array technology is traditionally used to this end, where signal properties are modulated through careful phasing of the array elements.  Arrays can be deployed at a transmitter or receiver, or they can serve as reflectors that operate semi-passively within the communication environment, in which case they can be used to improve propagation characteristics.  In all cases, it is beneficial to design arrays to be reconfigurable, and the performance of a particular design will depend on the phase, frequency, and temporal responses of the array elements. 

Project Description: In this project, the student will conduct research on the use of stimuli-responsive (SR) materials, such as liquid crystals (LCs) and electro-active polymers and gels, in reconfigurable array designs.  The inherently reconfigurable nature of these materials makes them attractive candidates for use in arrays employed in communication and sensing applications at frequencies over 10 GHz.  During the course of the project, electromagnetic models for SR-based arrays will be investigated with a view to understanding their usefulness in sensing and communication applications.  Different materials will be studied within this framework.  Simple devices will be constructed and tested with a view to validating theoretical predictions.  To date, little research has been carried out on SR-based array systems; hence, this project offers the opportunity to create disruptive technology at a basic level.


This studentship is funded through the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Industrial Cooperative Awards in Science & Technology (CASE) Award Scheme and is open to Home students.  Full details of the EPSRC eligibility requirements can be found here.

Award Value

University course fees are covered at the level set for Home students (c.£8,290 in 2021-2022 academic year). The stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) will be c. £15,285 for the first year, and at least this amount for a further three years.

Candidate Requirements

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

  • A first class honours degree in Engineering or Physics with advanced level courses in electromagnetics and/or communications;
  • Experience of experimental research in the field of photonics, or more generally electromagnetics, demonstrated by a publication at an international conference, journal or first-class final year project report;
  • Excellent written and spoken English communication skills; 

The following skills are desirable but not essential:

  • Ability to program in MATLAB;
  • Experience of COMSOL or similar software package;

Application Procedure

Informal enquiries are encouraged and should be addressed to Prof. Justin P. Coon (

Candidates must submit a graduate application form and are expected to meet the graduate admissions criteria.  Details are available on the course page of the University website.

Please quote ENGICASE21_JCSM in all correspondence and in your graduate application.

Application deadline: 2nd March 2021

Start date: October 2021