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Postgraduate research project

Greenhouse gas detection using silicon photonics platform

Competition funded View fees and funding
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree
View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Closing date

About the project

This exciting multidisciplinary PhD project aims to develop a new class of marine sensors based on cutting-edge MID-IR silicon photonics research. The ocean, which acts as an environmental buffer by absorbing heat and carbon dioxide (CO2) from human activity such as burning fossil fuels and changing land use (e.g. deforestation), is paying a heavy price. Ocean heat is at record levels and there have been widespread marine heatwaves. The past decade was exceptional in terms of global heat, retreating ice and record sea levels driven by greenhouse gases from human activities. Sea water is 26 percent more acidic than at the start of the industrial era, which poses an extreme hazard. The ocean absorbs about 38% of the CO2 released in the atmosphere. As atmospheric CO2 increases, the amount absorbed by the ocean also increases. When CO2 is absorbed by seawater, a series of chemical reactions occur resulting in the increased concentration of hydrogen ions and acidification. This process has far reaching implications for the ocean and the creatures that live there.

In a collaborative project between the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) you will study the detection of ocean pollutants like CO2 and methane by designing, fabricating and testing sensors for monitoring their unique spectral absorption fingerprints. Such technology has the potential to revolutionise the marine industry by offering compact and highly sensitive optical detectors. Real-life application of these devices can be implemented to explore and understand the evolution and life cycle of methane and CO2 from the seabed to the atmosphere and vice versa. You will be based at both the NOC and the ORC where you will conduct experiments at the UoS and NOC’s world-class facilities. You will also be working closely with engineers working on sensor integration with submarines and gliders at the Marine Autonomous Robotics centre.

The silicon chips will be fabricated at the ORC’s state-of-the-art clean rooms, to manufacture unique devices with high sensitivity over the spectral region that coincides with absorption of specific molecules.

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