Apply now for PhD projects starting in September 2020

PhD projects are available at all seven institutions, the Universities of Bristol, Bath, Cambridge, Hertfordshire, Imperial, Leeds and Manchester.

Choosing your PhD project

Each studentship has a primary academic supervisor at the home institution. We encourage you to get in touch with the supervisor using the details below to learn more about the project. A second academic supervisor (who may be at a second institution) will host the student towards the end of year 1 for a thematic broadening research sabbatical. In either year 2 or 3, you will undertake a placement with an industrial partner, further developing your skills and gaining experience of aerosol science outside academia.

All PhD projects and sabbaticals are designed in complementary thematic areas of aerosol science. The five themes are: basic aerosol processes; measurement techniques; aerosols and health; aerosol technology; and atmospheric and environmental aerosol. The primary theme of the PhD project is indicated.

How do I apply?

Apply using our online application form. You can indicate up to three project choices, an overall theme or preferred institution, but this information is not essential at this application stage.

The CDT recruitment panel will review all applications in early February 2020. Applications after this date will be subject to the remaining availability of studentships.

Aerosol Jet Printed p- and n-type semiconductor Materials: Practical Routes to Printed Electronics

Theme: Aerosol technology

This studentship focuses on the development of new inorganic inks for the aerosol jet printing of p- and n-type semiconductor electronics. The project will involve the synthesis and characterisation of new nanoscale metal-oxide and metal-chalcogenide molecules for the formulation of new composite inorganic inks. The projects sits at the interface between molecular/materials chemistry and aerosol science, and is ideally suited for students with an interest in both inorganic and materials chemistry.

Supervisor: Dr Andrew L Johnson



Modelling aerosols in an acoustic trap

Theme: Basic aerosol processes

Acoustic levitation involves using sound from a speaker (or transducer) to float particles. These particles are suspended mid-air and do not touch the walls, and such levitation could become an essential platform for experimentally observing and analysing aerosols. In this project, you will use a combination of numerical modelling and fundamental theoretical tools to understand the forces on aerosol particles inside an acoustic trap

Supervisor: Dr Anton Souslov

Crystallisation in nano-droplets

Theme: Basic aerosol processes

In this project you will develop cutting-edge instrumentation to produce and study sub-nanolitre droplets as they evolve in a controlled vapour environment, observing crystallisation and phase changes in real time using imaging and x-ray scattering. With this instrumentation you will study the fundamental science underpinning atmospheric, industrial and pharmaceutical processes.

Supervisor: Dr Adam Squires

Interfacial Photochemistry in Aerosol Droplets: Chemistry and Climate Impacts.

Theme: Environmental aerosol

Aerosol surfaces hold the greatest source of uncertainty for atmospheric chemistry and climate impacts. For example, surface composition determines the ability of atmospheric particles to serve as cloud droplets. This project will study directly light-induced reactivity at the droplet-air interface of individual droplets, linking interfacial composition to atmospheric reactivity.

Supervisor: Dr Bryan Bzdek

Replication and modelling of infectious respiratory droplets in humans and animals

Theme: Aerosols and health

Using novel aerosol technologies with human and animal samples and pathogens for the first time, the project aims to understand how the changing environment of respiratory droplets influences pathogen viability and transmission. Such understanding through this interdisciplinary approach could aid development of strategies to prevent the spread of respiratory infections.

Supervisor: Dr Darryl Hill

Aerosol Dynamics on Inhalation at High Relative Humidity

Theme: Basic aerosol processes

Aerosols are used to deliver drugs to the lungs to treat asthma and systemic diseases. The microphysical processes that transform the drug formulation on inhalation to the high humidity of the lungs (e.g. water condensation, dissolution) will be studied using single particle techniques with the aim of improving clinical efficacy.

This studentship is sponsored in partnership with Chiesi

Lead supervisor: Prof Jonathan Reid

High-confidence modelling of particle resuspension

Theme: Basic aerosol processes

The resuspension of particles deposited on surfaces is a crucially important generation mechanism for biological, environmental and hazardous aerosol particles. Using cutting edge experiments and models, the nature of the particle-surface interaction (e.g. particle shape, surface roughness) will be explored and the resuspension mechanism directly probed by high frame rate imaging.

This studentship is sponsored in partnership with DSTL

Lead supervisor: Prof Jonathan Reid

Ice nucleation in aerosols containing biomolecules

Theme: Basic aerosol processes

Ice nucleation in environmental aerosols is an important atmospheric process, but many details are still poorly understood. This project addresses the physical chemistry of heterogeneous ice nucleation by bio-nanoparticles. You will develop apparatus to levitate and freeze water droplets, and gain relevant background through environmental modelling and interaction with the British Antarctic Survey.

Lead supervisor: Prof Walther Schwarzacher

Modelling the plasma synthesis of graphene

Theme: Aerosol technology

The project will develop a Kinetic Monte Carlo model to explain the processes controlling the plasma synthesis of graphene. The model will provide important understanding to guide the future production of high-value carbon materials. This project would suit students with a passion for programming and modelling.

Lead supervisors:  Prof Markus Kraft and Dr Jethro Akroyd

Low-cost sensing of ultrafine aerosols: Sensor development and integration for first and second moment measurements

Theme: Measurement techniques

Sub-micron particulates are important pollutants, but difficult to measure with inexpensive methods. This project will use and further develop two low-cost sensors developed by the group to measure total particle area (nd2) or total particle length (nd) and thus diameter (d) in the atmosphere.

This studentship is sponsored in partnership with Alphasense

Lead supervisor: Prof Simone Hochgreb

Development of a Quartz Enhanced Photoacoustic Spectrometer for Soot Aerosol Detection

Theme: Measurement techniques

Carbon black is a component of particulate matter in the atmosphere which plays an important role in both health issues and climate change. The project will develop a quartz-enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy sensor (QEPAS) for carbon black sensing with good accuracy at number concentrations of 103-104 particles/cm3.

Lead supervisor: Prof Simone Hochgreb

Improving Evaporative Light Scattering detector performance using experiments and modelling

Theme: Measurement techniques

Evaporative Light Scattering detectors are used with high performance liquid chromatography by collecting light scattered by droplets formed from separate analytes. The project will combine experiments with modelling and simulations for the nebulisation and evaporation process to allow the sensitivity of the detector to be improved.

This studentship is sponsored in partnership with Agilent Technologies

Lead supervisor: Prof Simone Hochgreb

Collection methods for early detection of airborne viruses

Theme: Measurement techniques

Airborne aerosols are a primary transport mechanism for many diseases. Through experimentation, computational modelling and engineering prototyping, you will investigate aerosol capture mechanisms for effective real-time monitoring of disease transportation. This will include fundamental studies on the properties of the collected material and the principles of aerosol collection.

Lead supervisor: Dr Daniel McCluskey

Microphysiological models for the assessment of pulmonary concentration of inhaled aerosols

Theme: Aerosols and health

There are significant gaps in our understanding of the links between aerosol deposition sites, binding to lung tissue and the time course of local drug concentrations during inhaled therapy. This project will combine emerging microfluidic, lung-on-a-chip technologies with liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry bioanalysis to explore the ‘holy grail’ of in-lung pharmacokinetics.

Lead supervisor: Prof Darragh Murnane

Modelling & detecting micro-scale birefringent particles

Theme: Measurement techniques

Optical light scattering techniques are widely used for the classification of microscopic airborne particles with a wide range of applications (air pollution, climate modelling, agriculture, etc.).  You will use state-of-the-art optical instruments and aerosol levitation to develop a technique for the detection of the carcinogenic respirable crystalline silica.

This studentship is sponsored in partnership with Trolex.

Lead supervisor: Dr Chris Stopford 

Respirable Fibre Measurement from Light Scattering Patterns

Theme: Measurement techniques

Fibrous particle inhalation can cause a range of respiratory diseases.  Current detection methods require filtration and manual counting under a microscope.  You will work with state-of-the-art optical instrumentation to develop a technique for the real-time detection and measurement of airborne fibres.

Lead supervisor: Dr Chris Stopford 

In vitro modelling of lung response to environmental nanoparticulates

Theme: Aerosols and health

Environmental nanoparticulates can gravely impact health, leading to cardiopulmonary diseases and lung cancer. This project will bring together cutting-edge in vitro lung models, advanced deposition technologies and image analysis algorithms to characterise the lung tissue response to environmental nanoparticulate and to shed light upon their mechanisms of toxicity.

Lead supervisors: Dr Laura Urbano and Prof Darragh Murnane


Airborne particle collection into single droplets to analyse and identify harmful aerosol constituents

Theme: Measurement techniques

Investigation of harmful airborne aerosols is crucial in understanding their potential health implications. The greatest challenge in analysing aerosols containing microorganisms and particles is to collect them in sufficiently high concentrations for identification. Through application of theoretical and experimental engineering approaches you will investigate droplet-based techniques for collecting particles.

Lead supervisors: Prof Ian Johnston and Dr Loic Coudron


Aerosol deposition in the sinunasal airways- from the infant to the adult

Theme: Aerosols and health

The deposition and uptake of nanoparticles in the sinunasal airways (olfactory cleft and sinuses) is of growing concern. This project will apply CFD and experimental methods to study the transport of inhaled particles, focusing on how variations in airway morphology and breathing profile from infant to adult affect deposition.

Lead supervisor: Prof Denis Doorly 

Smart filtration of aerosols in ventilation systems

Theme: Aerosol technology

Aerosols in ventilation systems of energy efficient buildings affect indoor air quality. The experimental and computational project examines the influence of flow speed, level of turbulence and aerosol size on aerosol tendency to concentrate and deposit in typical ventilation ducts. Findings will guide active and passive control for efficient filtering.

Lead supervisor: Prof Yannis Hardalupas


Evaluation of the health impacts of aircraft nanoparticles using a surrogate soot source and in vitro cell exposure

Theme: Aerosols and health

Aircraft engines emit nanoparticles that may have specific health consequences due to their size and composition, especially near airports. This project will develop a laboratory source of surrogate aircraft soot particles that will be deposited on cell cultures to evaluate cellular responses and advance understanding of nanoparticle health impact pathways.

Lead supervisor: Dr Marc Stettler

Using microfluidic technology to measure and identify atmospheric ice nucleating particles

Theme: Atmospheric and environmental aerosol

The formation of ice in clouds is one of the least well understood aspects of planet’s climate system. This is in part because we lack the technology to routinely quantify the concentration of aerosol particles which nucleate ice. You will use new microfluidic technologies to tackle this challenge.

Lead supervisor: Prof Benjamin Murray

Photochemical Processing of Atmospheric Aerosol

Theme: Atmospheric and environmental aerosol

Atmospheric aerosols impact global warming and human health yet chemical transformations at their surfaces in the presence of sunlight are poorly understood. In this project laboratory studies using two complementary approaches will be used to study photo-processing at aerosol surfaces, with the results exploited using a detailed atmospheric model.

Lead supervisors: Prof Dwayne Heard and Dr Bryan Bzdek

Structure development in drying polymer droplets

Theme: Aerosol technology

When polymer solution droplets dry, the particles created have a rich variety of morphologies which are important for many applications, especially pharmaceuticals.    The project will apply and develop world-class single droplet techniques to further our understanding of the mechanisms controlling this fascinating area of aerosol science.

Lead supervisor: Prof Andrew Bayly

Optical Properties of Venusian Clouds

Theme: Atmospheric and environmental aerosol

Venus is completely shrouded in thick clouds. This project will investigate the curious blue absorption in the clouds, which is responsible for the yellowish appearance of the planet and remains unexplained. Laboratory optical studies of candidate cloud droplets, combined with atmospheric modelling, will be used to unravel the mystery.

Lead supervisor: Prof John Plane


Towards a better understanding of the lifecycle of Pesticides in the Atmosphere

Theme: Atmospheric and environmental aerosol

Pesticides are widely used throughout the world and are essential components in the efficient production of food.  However, their atmospheric cycles remain very important and poorly understood transport pathways.  You will use a range of advanced aerosol tools and techniques to constrain atmospheric behaviour combining both laboratory and field studies

This studentship is sponsored in partnership with Syngenta.

Lead supervisor: Prof Hugh Coe 

Data Science approaches for better understanding the impact of interventions on controlling ambient particulate matter

Theme: Measurement techniques

Air-quality monitoring networks are designed to examine trends in composition and sources of particulate matter [PM]. However there is a spectrum of technologies often used in isolation. Here you will apply machine learning approaches for combining PM and ancillary data to deliver new insights into our ability to detect change.

Lead supervisor: Dr David Topping

Particle Transport and Losses in Sampling Aircraft Gas Turbine Engine Combustion Emissions

Theme: Measurement techniques

Understanding soot formation and transport at the interface between engine exit and the combustor of a large gas turbine aircraft engine remains a significant challenge. This project will look to elucidate the problem, working closely with Rolls Royce, and will ultimately lead to a better understanding of the environmental impact of engines.

This studentship is sponsored in partnership with Rolls Royce.

Lead supervisor: Dr Paul I Williams


How do I apply?

You can apply using our online application form. If you are interested in finding out more about a project, please contact the supervisor directly using their details above. You can also say on your application form if you are interested in an overall theme, area, or specific institution. You can also check out our FAQs page.


What happens next?

The CDT recruitment panel will review all applications and invite candidates with a suitable academic background to a recruitment and assessment day at the University of Bristol where you will meet members of CAS, learn a little more about aerosols and have opportunities to ask questions. You will also take part in a team-based activity to enable you to try out the team-based learning methods used for CAS teaching.

Please apply by February 3rd 2020. There may be a second recruitment day later in the year, depending on the remaining availability of studentships. If you would like to apply but cannot make the February recruitment date, please let us know using the details below.

If you have any queries, please contact us at