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PhD Studentship

Open University
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Closing date
9 Sep 2022
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Job Details

Infrared image sensors for space and Solar System exploration

The Open University

Based in Milton Keynes

The School of Physical Sciences, STEM Faculty, The Open University invites applications for a full-time PhD studentship dedicated to the characterisation and development of new generation of medium wave infrared (MWIR) image sensors for space applications.

Imaging in the MWIR band is one of the key techniques for the investigation of the chemical composition of materials and gases in remote observations. Covering the 3 to 5 micrometre band, space-based MWIR imaging and spectroscopy is used to monitor hydrocarbons and other greenhouse gasses, as well as crop hydration and condition. Elsewhere in the Solar System, prospecting for ices and hydrated mineral deposits using the MWIR band is an important precursor to in-situ resource utilisation (ISRU). Recently, novel barrier-based III-V semiconductor devices have shown great promise as MWIR sensors. Using InAsSb/InAs as an absorber, they can operate at temperatures in the 77-150 K range and have great potential for future space-based imaging instrumentation.

The project will carry out detailed characterisation of the electro-optical parameters of III-V MWIR image sensors and their radiation hardness for space applications. Preliminary studies have indicated that the radiation damage largely anneals at room temperature, which necessitates that the sensor is kept at cryogenic operating temperatures throughout the irradiation and characterisation. The CEI is one of the pioneers of cryogenic irradiation and has extensive know-how in this technique, which was successfully used in the characterisation of the CCDs for the EUCLID space telescope. Later in the project, hybrid focal plane arrays will be available from Te2v, and the task will be to perform comprehensive characterisation of their quantum efficiency, dark current, and radiation hardness.

The research studentships provide a maintenance grant of £15,609 per year directly payable to the student and cover the University fees. This is an STFC CASE studentship in collaboration with Teledyne e2v. Both UK and non-UK applicants are encouraged to apply. This studentship benefits from a 9-month industrial placement at Teledyne e2v at their Chelmsford site and offers an additional stipend top-up of £2,760 per year.  

The studentship starts in February 2023.

Qualifications required:

At least 2:1 BSc or a MSc in physics, electronic engineering, or a related discipline.

Closing date for applications: 9 September 2022

Interviews will take place in September 2022 (dates to be confirmed)

More information about the project and how to apply can be found via the Apply Now button.

We are committed to widening participation and awarding PhD studentships to a diverse community of applicants. We particularly welcome applications from under-represented groups. Equal opportunity is University policy.


The Open University’s mission is to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

We promote educational opportunity and social justice by providing high-quality university education to all who wish to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.

Through academic research, pedagogic innovation and collaborative partnership we seek to be a world leader in the design, content and delivery of supported open learning.

The Open University has its headquarters at Walton Hall in Milton Keynes, which is 80km north of Central London, midway between Oxford and Cambridge, and just off the M1 motorway, linking it to Birmingham and the north of England.

Around 1,200 full-time academics work at the Milton Keynes campus, along with some 250 of our 1,400 full-time and part-time postgraduate research students.

The University has invested significantly in its infrastructure for research, increasing laboratory space at Milton Keynes headquarters by nearly 50 per cent in the last seven years. Our newest facility is the Jennie Lee Building, which houses dedicated laboratories for pervasive computing and deployment of ambient and ubiquitous technologies.

Our students and academics are supported by around 4,000 administrative, technical, secretarial and student services staff.

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