Sensing system development for aviation


Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD studentship within the new established EPSRC funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensing, Processing, and AI for Defence and Security (SPADS). The program involves both a PhD research project and integrated studies as part of a cohort of like-minded students. The integrated studies will include advanced courses and bespoke training events such as summer schools, specialised theme meetings, and innovation and commercialisation sandpits.


Composite materials are used in prime and secondary applications such as aerospace, renewable energy, marine and automotive. Their intensive use exposes them to various external loads through their lifecycle. One of the most frequent catastrophic failures during the service life of a composite structure can be occurred with vibrations and impacts. In-situ damage systems for damage detection cam be used for Structural Health Monitoring (SHM). The methods include either local, global or combined responses. The system measures displacement, acceleration or inclination by using various types of contact sensors such as strain gauges, accelerometer, piezoelectric sensors etc. However, in some cases there are economic and practical issues such as the installation of wires in the composite structure that may lead to deterioration of the mechanical properties. The need for in-situ damage detection and localization due to either static or dynamic indentation has increased the interest in multifunctional materials and structures.

The proposed project will develop smart sensors in composite materials that can detect impact damage for aviation.  To this end, the project aligns to research theme beyond CMOS hardware, and to some extent sensor signal processing and autonomous sensing platforms.  The aim of this PhD is the development of continuous embedded sensors that localize and detect impact damage in composite structures.


  • Study and fabrication of compatible sensors with common composite materials;
  • Development of composite materials with the embedded sensing system and determination of the damage location from signal processing;
  • Perform impact characterization of the manufactured composites with sensors and localize the damage with signal processing;
  • Dissemination and exploitation activities.

Further Information: 


PhD Project to be run through the Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensing, Processing, and AI for Defence and Security (SPADS). For more information, please visit:

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 22, 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.

The position is open for candidates interested in performing experiments in developing advanced nanocomposite-based sensors.  Experience in micro nano fabrication technologies (e.g. lithography, etching, atomic layer deposition) is a plus in the selection process.

The successful candidate will have access to the Scottish Microelectronics Centre for the fabrication of the designed devices.  Training on nanofabrication, measurement technologies and clean-room skills will be undertaken.  

The successful candidate will work closely with other PhDs and postdocs involved in similar investigations.    

Experimental collaborations: The project will be developed in collaboration with Leonardo SpA.

Students are expected to hold a 2.1 Hons degree or above, or equivalent, in Electronics and Electrical Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Material Science or related discipline. A Master’s degree in one of the above fields would be advantageous.

Applicants who require an ATAS certificate to work study in the UK will not be eligible for this PhD programme. A list of nationalities that do not require ATAS certification can be found here -

Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


A successful candidate will receive an enhanced annual stipend of £20,716 tax-free, which is comparable with current graduate salaries and increases annually. 
Tuition fees + stipend are available for applicants who qualify as Home applicants. Applications will be considered from EU/International Students who meet the eligibility requirements. To qualify as a Home student, you must fulfil one of the following criteria: 

  • You are a UK student.
  • You are an EU student with settled/pre-settled status who also has 3 years residency in the UK/EEA/Gibraltar/Switzerland immediately before the start of your Programme. (International students not eligible.) 
  • Further information and other funding options: View Website

Informal queries to Prof Rebecca Cheung (

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: