Design of microflyers for environmental monitoring

In the next decade, distributed sensor network systems made of small flying sensors, from dust-scale to insect-scale, will enable a step change in monitoring natural disasters and remote areas. They will contribute to protecting the environment by providing data on the contamination of physical and biological systems and on the impact of human activities. To date, a key limitation of this technology is that small sensors can remain airborne only for few tens of minutes (e.g.,,

By contrast, some natural flyers such as the dandelion fruit, travel unpowered for days and hundreds of kilometres. Recent Edinburgh research revealed the aerodynamics underlying the extraordinary flight ability of the dandelion, including the energy scavenging mechanisms that allows it to re-gain altitude at every wind gust. The present project aims to exploit these aerodynamic findings to enable a step change in the endurance and range of flying sensors. The candidate will identify state-of-the-art microfabrication, sensing and communication technologies suitable for the design of an ultra-light (c.a. 1 mg) insect-scale bioresorbable flyer. Within the duration of the project, different prototypes will be developed and tested in bespoke wind tunnels and in the field.

The successful applicant will work in an Edinburgh team of about 10 researchers including PhD students, postdoctoral research associates and technicians, who contribute to the design of this novel technology through numerical simulations, experiments, and developing theoretical models. The Edinburgh team also works in close collaboration with several overseas research leaders who undertake complementary projects and advise on the team activities.

The successful applicants should have a bachelor’s degree in engineering or equivalent experience, and should be passionate about micro technology and robotics.

The position will remain open until a successful applicant is identified. For informal enquiries, please email Dr Jawahar Sivabharathy Samuthira Pandi, We aim to reply to all informal enquiries within 10 working days. 

Further Information: 

The University of Edinburgh is committed to equality of opportunity for all its staff and students, and promotes a culture of inclusivity. Please see details here:

Closing Date: 

Thursday, May 1, 2025

Principal Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Applications are welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere

Tuition fees + stipend are available for Home/EU and International students

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: