The University of Southampton

Aerospace Photonics

Our purpose is to decarbonise the aviation sector through developing new optical monitoring technology.

We specifically target Aerostructures and Propulsion systems, where optical monitoring offers high fidelity, high density, distributed sensing in the extreme environments of aerospace. By leveraging the information obtained, new design capabilities and operation modalities for flight can be realised.

Our primary research develops new types of optical fibre and planar platforms for monitoring composite airframes, helicopter drivetrains, jet engines and fuel systems.

Industrial collaborators include Airbus, GE Aviation, GKN Aerospace, Parker Aerospace.

Come join us and make a change.

PhD projects

Industry Sponsored PhD (BAE Systems) New Photonic Sensors for Monitoring Large Composite Structures

Supervisors: Dr Christopher Holmes and Professor Janice Barton

Composite materials have revolutionised engineering, from highly efficient wind turbine blades that generate our electricity to composite wing aircraft that have significantly reduced the carbon footprint of flight. This PhD, supported by BAE Systems, develops advanced optical monitoring of composite material to tackle decarbonisation and sustainability of engineered structures.

Recent collaboration between the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton and the Bristol Composites Institute at the University of Bristol has developed a new type of optical sensor [1]. The sensor is based upon an ultra-thin glass sheet (50um thick) that can be connected to regular optical fibre and embedded into composite material. It provides unique in-plane and through-thickness strain information without compromising mechanical integrity of the composite in which it is placed.

In this PhD you will have the opportunity to develop this new platform and grow your skills in optical fibre fabrication and composite manufacture. You will collaborate across disciplines, with Teams from the University of Southampton and the University of Bristol developing technology that offers routes for tailored composite manufacture and assess fragility to impact and environmental events.

[1] Christopher Holmes, Mike Godfrey, Daniel John Bull, Janice Dulieu-Barton, ‘Real-time through-thickness and in-plane strain measurement in carbon fibre reinforced polymer composites using planar optical Bragg gratings’, Optics and Lasers in Engineering, Volume 133, 106111, (2020).

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