ICT Enabled Multifunctional Devices for Next Generation of Smart Monitoring - Engineering - EPSRC DTP funded PhD Studentship Ref: 2885

About the award

This project is one of a number funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Doctoral Training Partnership to commence in September 2018. This project is in direct competition with others for funding; the projects which receive the best applicants will be awarded the funding.

The studentships will provide funding for a stipend which is currently £14,553 per annum for 2017-2018. It will provide research costs and UK/EU tuition fees at Research Council UK rates for 42 months (3.5 years) for full-time students, pro rata for part-time students.

Please note that of the total number of projects within the competition, up to 15 studentships will be filled.

Prof. Meiling Zhu
Professor Yanqiu Zhu

Streatham Campus, Exeter

Project Description

The world around us is full of smart multifunctional devices that combine all sorts of mono-functional devices into a multifunctional device with information communication technology (ICT) capability. One of the best examples of such devices is the smart phone, combining a phone, a camera, a video-recorder, and the internet into a smart multifunctional device. The smart device have made our life more connected, more comfortable and more convenient. It is not surprising that industry and manufacturing are increasingly changing with the advent of digital technology. A shift is taking place by industry from mono-function devices to multifunction devices as there are significant advantages in weight and footprint reductions and their associated benefits. The demand for multifunctional devices with ICT capability will cross entire industry sectors and their value chains. This has inspired us to propose an ICT enabled multifunctional devices for the next generation of smart monitoring. This PhD funded project is to use one piece of piezoelectric material to implement a multifunctional device providing sensing, actuation and power source for structural health monitoring systems, rather than using a number of individually different function devices realising multifunction, which has not been attempted before.

The device will harvest its own energy from mechanical vibration in the structure, and use the harvested power to operate itself as a sensor and an actuator with associated ICT capability, operating in a completely energy autonomous manner without the need for power supplies. Such devices offer important performance advantages and associated advantages in minimising system weight and footprint and present opportunities for innovation for industry. A wealth of opportunities exist once these properties can be properly exploited for multifunction, but these synergies remain unexploited so far in the way the PhD funded project are investigating. The PhD student will research on the development of knowledge, methodologies, techniques and an associated technology demonstrator and will be involved in the following work: (1) study of the device architecture, (2) development of the device design methods, (3) prototype of the multifunctional device and (4) test of the prototype in the lab and analyses of the results for improved design. 

This PhD project will be suitable for candidates with experience in two and more areas of applied physics, mechanical, aeronautical, automotive, transport, electrical and electronic engineering, information communication and technology and energy system designs.

The PhD student will have learning and training opportunities   in developing not only standard academic skills and knowledges but also special skills and knowledge in energy harvesting and gaining an understanding of the industrial requirements for this technology for applications.

Entry Requirements
You should have or expect to achieve at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or equivalent, in engineering and technology. Experience in applied physics, mechanical, aeronautical, automotive, transport, electrical and electronic engineering, and information communication and technology and energy system design is desirable.

The majority of the studentships are available for applicants who are ordinarily resident in the UK and are classed as UK/EU for tuition fee purposes.  If you have not resided in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship, you are not eligible for a maintenance allowance so you would need an alternative source of funding for living costs. To be eligible for fees-only funding you must be ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU.  For information on EPSRC residency criteria click here.

Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are NOT eligible for funding. International students interested in studying at the University of Exeter should search our funding database for alternative options.


Application deadline:10th January 2018
Value:3.5 year studentship: UK/EU tuition fees and an annual maintenance allowance at current Research Council rate. Current rate of £14,553 per year.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Doctoral Collegepgrenquiries@exeter.ac.uk

How to apply

You will be required to upload the following documents:
•       CV
•       Letter of application outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to
        undertake the project.
•       Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained.  This should be an interim
        transcript if you are still studying.
•       If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your current
        proficiency in English.  For further details of the University’s English language requirements please see

The closing date for applications is midnight (GMT) on Wednesday 10 January 2018.  Interviews will be held at the University of Exeter in late February 2018.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email: pgrenquiries@exeter.ac.uk.
Project-specific queries should be directed to the supervisor.

During the application process, the University may need to make certain disclosures of your personal data to third parties to be able to administer your application, carry out interviews and select candidates.  These are not limited to, but may include disclosures to:

• the selection panel and/or management board or equivalent of the relevant programme, which is likely to include staff from one or more other HEIs;
• administrative staff at one or more other HEIs participating in the relevant programme.

Such disclosures will always be kept to the minimum amount of personal data required for the specific purpose. Your sensitive personal data (relating to disability and race/ethnicity) will not be disclosed without your explicit consent.