To model and manipulate material scatter effects to control the propagation of electromagnetic radiation, Physics & Astronomy– PhD (Funded) Ref: 3302

About the award


Dr Jacopo Bertolotti, University of Exeter

Dr Simon Horsley, University of Exeter

Industry partner: QinetiQ

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in April 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter.  For eligible students the studentship will cover UK tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least approximately £14,500 for 4 years full-time.  The student would be based in Physics Building at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.

The successful applicant will join TEAM-A: The tailored electromagnetic and acoustic materials accelerator (, an EPSRC Prosperity Partnership programme. The aim of this partnership, which builds upon the successful relationship that exists between the University of Exeter and QinetiQ, is to develop advanced materials and devices that can be used to control and manipulate the propagation of electromagnetic and acoustic energy, in a highly tailored, bespoke fashion, and develop innovative techniques for their cost-effective manufacture.

The studentship is to the value of around £90,000, which includes £11,000 towards the research project (travel, consumables, equipment etc.), tuition fees, and an annual, tax-free stipend of approximately £14,500 per year for UK nationals

To develop new computer models of scatter effects to enable the design and the development of new materials and devices that can be used in a wide range of environments (e.g. atmosphere, oceans, etc.).  To determine and demonstrate the limits of surface scatter tailoring. The optical surface finish of an object can strongly dictate its appearance, a phenomenon of relevance to camouflage treatments: the display of a specific hue and brightness is important in any attempt to blend with the environment, but the degree of diffuseness of transmitted and/or reflected light is also crucial. Paints have been developed to display specific degrees of diffuseness (gloss to matt), largely via the addition of granules to introduce random scatter and surface roughness. However, whilst surface roughness can provide antireflection properties over a wide range of angles, the paints produced so far do not provide the desired degree of control, especially when trying to minimise effects such as grazing angle reflection ('glint'). The project will quantify scatter from the first principles to identify new materials and surface patterns that will provide a higher degree of control than is currently available when designing paints and appliques, particularly for use at non-visible wavelengths. Both reflective and transmissive scatter will be considered, using uniquely suited equipment at QinetiQ's Farnborough facilities (e.g. full and wideband Bidirectional Reflectance apparatus) in the pursuit of thin, lightweight and robust treatments. This will include the pursuit of a newly predicted structure that will entirely eliminate grazing-incidence scatter, redirecting it into a chosen direction.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology.  Applicants must be UK nationals.

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents.  Please note our preferred format is PDF, each file named with your surname and the name of the document, eg. “Smith – CV.pdf”, “Smith – Cover Letter.pdf”, “Smith – Transcript.pdf”.
• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
• Research proposal
• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
• Names of two referees familiar with your academic work. You are not required to obtain references yourself. We will request references directly from your referees if you are shortlisted.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

The closing date for applications is midnight on Wednesday 30th January 2019.  Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Streatham Campus the week commencing 25th February 2019.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 722730 or +44 (0)1392 725150.  Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor.


Application deadline:30th January 2019
Value:Appoximately £14,500 per year for 4 years
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Support Office +44 (0)1392 722730 / 5150