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Award details

CDT in Metamaterials: Metamaterials for Focussing and Filtering Underwater Sound Ref: 4156

About the award


Academic supervisors: Prof Alastair P Hibbins, Prof J Roy Sambles, Dr Tim Starkey (University of Exeter)

Industrial supervisor: Dr Thomas J Graham (ATLAS ELEKTRONIK UK)


Statement of Research

The use of structure to manipulate sound in air is now well established. For example rainbow trapping sound using graded metasurfaces to slow sound down to such an extent that different frequencies are stopped at different positions within the graded structure. As the sound is brought to a halt with the phase speed tending to zero, in a similar way to surface gravity waves in a tsunami, the signal is strongly intensified. The focus of this project is using slow sound to strengthen weak acoustic signals in water, filter frequencies and wave-types to make sound more readily detected.

The successful candidate will investigate methods to combine existing capabilities at ATLAS ELEKTRONIK UK and The University of Exeter to model, fabricate and characterise acoustic metamaterial structures that use slow sound and impedance matching to help to enhance detection of weak acoustic signals hidden in noise.

About the employment / PhD studentship

The successful candidate will be employed full-time on band 3 in a permanent position by ATLAS ELEKTRONIK UK. As part of the employment, they will undertake a 4 year PhD project as part of the Centre for Metamaterials Research and Innovation’s doctoral training programme, the Centre for Doctoral Training in Metamaterials, and will be awarded a PhD in Physics/Engineering upon successful completion of the PhD programme.

They will spend the majority of the PhD project work at the University of Exeter although some aspects of the studies will be undertaken at ATLAS ELEKTRONIK UK Winfrith. During the full-time PhD project, the successful candidate can also work up to 180 h per study year on different projects within the ATLAS ELEKTRONIK UK Sonar team.

The PhD programme would normally start on 20 September 2021. Employment is expected to commence 3-4 weeks earlier (subject to Security Clearance). 

The University fees will be covered by ATLAS ELEKTRONIK UK.

Knowledge, skills and personal qualities required
• Undergraduate degree in Physics or a related discipline (2.1 or higher)
• Vision and motivation (for research & professional development)
• Evidence of the ability to work collaboratively and to engage in a diverse community
• Evidence of excellent written and oral skills in English
• Will need to demonstrate self-motivation and resilience to work remotely from ATLAS ELEKTRONIK UK line management for protracted periods
• The successful candidate will be required to successfully complete their doctoral training; an associated training agreement will need to be signed prior to taking up the position.

Key accountabilities 
• Regular reporting to The University of Exeter and ATLAS ELEKTRONIK UK supervision team,
• Conduct novel and goal focused research,
• Communicate with supervision team to get guidance and access to facilities when needed,
• Maintain ethical and safety research standards,
• Deliver PhD thesis within the given timeframe.

Behavioural requirements
As a representative of ATLAS ELEKTRONIK UK the candidate must:
• Be professional throughout,
• Be self-motivated to work on a unique research project for an extended time,
• Be proactive and contribute to discussions,
• Have good time management skills and be a forward thinker.


ATLAS ELEKTRONIK UK (AEUK) provides innovation for underwater systems for the Royal Navy and export customers. Operating from its Headquarters at Winfrith in Dorset, AEUK has invested in its unique in-house test and integration facilities in order to support its growth in supply to UK and global markets of submarine and ship systems, including sonar, autonomous systems, marine electric actuation and mine counter-measures. AEUK has waterside access in Portland Harbour that provides AEUK and its partners with excellent facilities to test systems at sea, particularly those from its Autonomy portfolio. AEUK is a leading innovative maritime systems company operating throughout all phases of the acquisition and engineering lifecycles, from Concept to In-service Support. With over 450 employees, AEUK is the largest subsidiary in the ATLAS ELEKTRONIK Group. ATLAS ELEKTRONIK Group is part of thyssenkrupp Marine Systems.

More information at


About the CDT in Metamaterials (XM2) and CMRI

XM2 is the doctoral training programme of the Centre for Metamaterial Research and Innovation at the University of Exeter. It provides scientific knowledge as well as transferable and technical skills training to all its students to prepare them for careers within and outside of academia.

In 2014,  XM2 started off as a £12 million Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Metamaterials, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC/EP/L015331/1), the University of Exeter and industry.

The PhD students learn together in targeted courses, self-driven activity groups, and exposure to industry to gain scientific background knowledge beyond their areas of expertise, and to equip themselves with transferable professional skills such as creative thinking, project management, and leadership.

XM2 consists of more than 50 active PhD students (Postgraduate Researchers, PGRs) from the UK, the EU and beyond, who are training in a stimulating, challenging yet supportive cohort-based environment. Since 2018, over 40 graduates went into employment in industry and as postdocs in Higher Education Institutions in and outside of the UK.

About the University of Exeter

The University of Exeter combines world class research with excellent student satisfaction. It is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive universities. Formed in 1955, the University has over 20,000 students from more than 130 different countries. Its success is built on a strong partnership with its students and a clear focus on high performance. Recent breakthroughs to come out of Exeter's research include the identification and treatment of new forms of diabetes and the creation of the world's most transparent, lightweight and flexible conductor of electricity.

It is one of the very few universities to be both a member of the Russell Group and have a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), evidence of its established international reputation for excellence in both teaching and research. The University’s success is built on a strong partnership with our students and a clear focus on high performance.

Exeter is also ranked amongst the world’s top 200 universities in the QS and Times Higher Education rankings.

Entry requirements

The essential criteria:
• Undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline (2:1 or higher);
• Vision and motivation (for research & professional development);
• Evidence of the ability to work collaboratively and to engage in a diverse community;
• Evidence of excellent written and oral skills in English.

The highest quality candidates will also be able to demonstrate one of more of the following:
• Specialist knowledge in the project area;
• Training in research methodology (e.g. undergraduate research projects);
• Research outputs (e.g. papers) and/or other indicators of academic excellence (e.g. awards).


How to apply

Eligibility:  UK nationals only. The successful candidate must be able to achieve full SC (Security Clearance).

Apply:  Please forward your application including the documents requested below to the Recruitment Partner, Morson International, to aeukrecruitment@morson․com by the closing date and state the project title in the subject line.

Please ensure to provide all elements listed below as part of your application. Incomplete applications cannot be processed.
• Degree transcript(s) giving information about the qualification awarded, the modules taken during the study period, and the marks for each module taken.
• An academic CV;
• A cover letter outlining your research interests in general;
o Describe a) why you would like to study for a PhD, b) why you would like to focus on this particular topic, c) any relevant expertise and d) your future career ambitions;
o Describe the qualities that you believe will make you a great researcher (in particular as part of a team).
• The contact details of two academic referees.

Shortlisting & interview procedure

Applications are made to ATLAS ELEKTRONIK UK in the first instance, followed by a 3-stage interview process:
• An initial telephone interview will be undertaken by ATLAS ELEKTRONIK UK.
• Candidates who are successful at the first interview stage will be invited to a second interview with the academic supervisory team from the University of Exeter.
• Successful applicants from the academic interview will undertake a final interview with ATLAS ELEKTRONIK UK.

Only successful applicants will be contacted.

ATLAS ELEKTRONIK UK Ltd is an Equal Opportunities employer and welcomes applications for all posts from suitably qualified people regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, religion or belief.

Please email and/or if you have any queries about this process.


Application deadline:30th June 2021
Value:Employment at ATLAS ELEKTRONIK UK (Band 3); Tuition fees will be covered by the employer.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Dr Isaac Luxmoore