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PhD Position Available at Liverpool John Moores University

Project Title: Development and Deployment of a Novel Real-Time Sensing Platform to Ensure Global Environmental Water Security

The scheme will provide funds for full-time tuition fees (UK/EU students only) and a stipend at the LJMU standard rate (which is in line with UK Research Council rates) for 3 years, plus a contribution to research costs of £1,500.

Project description:

Approximately one third of the world’s population are still without access to clean water, and with global water demand projected to increase by 55% by 2050, the impending ‘water crisis’ is ranked by many political and economic institutions as the greatest societal, environmental and technological challenge facing humanity. Specifically, polluted drainage from current and historic mines (Pb, Zn, Cu, Cd) is a global problem. In the UK alone there are >3000 abandoned metal mines that cause approximately 20% water bodies to fail to meet environmental standards.

The primary focus of this project will be to demonstrate the use of novel functionalised electromagnetic wave sensors for remote, affordable, practical and real-time monitoring of water chemistry and pollution, specifically inorganic contaminants due to their general toxicity, global occurrence and recognition in environmental legislation worldwide. The project objectives are designed to test the sensors in a variety of field settings that relate to two key challenges outlined in Goal 6 of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: to develop the ability to monitor and report water quality over large and remote geographical areas and to be able to provide an early warning system for pollution events.

The supervisory team has already demonstrated in laboratory experiments the potential of the microwave cavity sensor to detect changes in metal concentrations in water. This project will make the system portable, based on a novel arrangement of bespoke planar electromagnetic wave sensor functionalised with unique coating layers that will address selectivity and sensitivity requirements for the particular water chemistry. The system will be combined with appropriate wireless hardware to allow continuous real-time monitoring of water pollution. The sensors will be cost-effective and with minimal operating costs could be deployed over large geographical areas as part of a national water security monitoring network or more densely in urbanised / industrialised regions to monitor adherence to water quality guidelines or provide early warning of contamination events.

Thus, your work will contribute to solving the world crisis. Are you ready to make an impact? Do you have necessary skills and desire to make positive contribution to this planet? Then join our interdisciplinary team of academics, researchers and scientists, coming from three different departments.

The applicant should be from UK/EU only and ideally with a strong material, electronics or chemical engineering background, and be willing to work as part of a multi-disciplinary research team to drive this new innovation, which has the potential to create a revolutionary real-time water quality sensing system to address global water security issues. Furthermore, the applicant should be willing to be flexible and, where appropriate, spend time at the lab and outdoor premises to test and deploy the prototype device at rivers and other water sources.

Enquires and applications may be directed to Dr Olga Korostynska at and Dr Patrick Byrne at

Application deadline: 21 Sep 2016 

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