PhD Studentship in Glass Surface Interactions in Hollow Core Fibres

University of Southampton Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics

United Kingdom

PhD Studentship - Glass Surface Interactions in Hollow Core Fibres

Photonic Systems Circuits & Sensors Group

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Monday 31 August 2020
Reference:  1229220PN

Supervisor:                 Dr Natalie Wheeler

Co-supervisor             Dr Yong Chen


Project description

We are looking for a new PhD student with a background in chemistry, materials science and/ or physics to join us to study the surface chemistry of thin glass membranes in hollow core fibres (HCFs). 

HCFs are an exciting development in optical fibre technology where light is guided in an air-filled core. At the University of Southampton, we have a world-leading group, which designs, characterises and fabricates state-of-the-art HCFs and we recently reported a new world record low loss for this type of optical fibre. 

Now the optical lifetime of these fibres is becoming critical for their successful deployment. The hollow core region is surrounded by a cladding structure formed from thin glass membranes. These membranes can have extreme dimensions, e.g, having a width of only 30 nanometres but extending along the full fibre length (up to several kilometres) and therefore they present a novel and interesting platform for glass surface dynamics. We want to study the interactions between these surfaces and air (or other gas species) within the fibre.

In this project, the student will fabricate new HCFs, with a focus on understanding and quantifying the impact of different fabrication processes on the properties of the glass surfaces within the fibre and linking this to lifetime of the final fibre in various applications. Within this scope, the student will become an expert in both fabrication and characterisation of HCFs, while developing a high level of understanding of glass science. The successful student will work with experienced researchers, have access to a wide range of equipment and work with external partners to maximise the impact of their work.

A fully funded PhD position is available for UK applicants (with an enhanced stipend of £18,000 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.) EU students with no external funding can contend for a small number of competitive scholarships. Students from overseas who have secured some external funding are also encouraged to apply.

To discuss project details/arrange a visit, please contact Dr. Natalie Wheeler ( 

About the Optoelectronics Research Centre

The ORC has led the world in optical fibre technology research for the past 50 years. With over 90 state-of-the-art laboratories and 200 researchers working in all areas of photonics, the ORC provides an outstanding interdisciplinary environment for students to grow. Its cluster of 12 photonics spin-out companies provides a natural career path for PhD graduates. 

The group has an excellent track record of publishing in high profile research journals and international conferences. Its former PhD and postdoctoral researchers have made successful careers in universities worldwide or as industry scientists and business leaders. 

In the first year of your PhD a structured training programme runs alongside the research project, providing a gradual transition from taught degree to open-ended research. Students present their work at conferences worldwide, first-author papers in leading academic journals and emerge with skills at the forefront of glass and fibre optics research. 

Key facts

Entry requirements: first or upper second-class degree or equivalent

Closing date: applications throughout the year. 

Duration: typically 3.5 (full-time) 

Assessment: reports at 8 and 16-month stages and an oral examination to determine progression to PhD, awarded after thesis submission and viva voce examination 

Start date: typically October (later starts might be acceptable)


Further ORC information:  and please contact:


In your application, please refer to