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Research Studentships in Optical Fibre Sensors

Project: Optical fibre sensors for challenging environments

3.5-year D.Phil. studentship 

Supervisor: Dr Julian Fells, Prof. Martin Booth 

Sensors can be microfabricated into a length of optical fibre which is typically around 125 µm in diameter. A single optical fibre can contain many such sensors along its length, to enable distributed measurements of temperature, pressure, strain and various other parameters. These sensor networks allow diagnostic data to be extracted from otherwise inaccessible areas, such as those operating at extreme temperatures and pressures, high electromagnetic fields, ionising radiation and confined spaces. There are potential applications in the propulsion, energy generation, space and healthcare sectors. For example, by using the data for control feedback, significant improvements in efficiency and emission reduction are expected. At the University of Oxford we have pioneered a technique for writing sensors in optical fibre with extremely high precision ( This enables great design flexibility and the freedom to develop new types of sensor designs.

The project aim is to develop new types of optical fibre sensor systems for a range of extreme environments. These sensors may incorporate Bragg gratings and use specialty optical fibres, novel materials and new fabrication processing techniques. This project is multidisciplinary and industrially focussed. The work encompasses: sensor design, modelling, fabrication, characterisation, integration into host applications, optoelectronics and signal processing. There will be collaboration with academic and industrial partners in different fields (e.g. aerospace, energy and space) and the possibility of industrial secondments if this is of interest. There is a large amount of flexibility in the project direction, depending on the interests of the student.


This studentship is open to Home students (full award – home fees plus stipend).

Award Value

Course fees are covered at the level set for Home students (c. £8290 p.a.). The stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) is c. £15285 p.a. for the first year, and at least this amount for a further two and a half years.

Candidate Requirements

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

  • A first class (or high 2.1) honours degree in Engineering, Physics or a related discipline.
  • Excellent English written and spoken communication skills

The following skills are desirable but not essential:

  • Taken courses or undertaken a project in optics/photonics/optoelectronics
  • Strong laboratory-based skills
  • Ability to program in Matlab

Application Procedure

Informal enquiries are encouraged and should be addressed to Dr Julian Fells (

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 21ENGMSEE_JFMB in all correspondence and in your graduate application.

Application deadline: noon on 22 January 2021 (In line with the January admissions deadline, set by the University)

Start date: October 2021