High power laser development


This PhD project will contribute to a major Ministry of Defence (MoD) research programme intended to develop generation after next technologies for applications in defence and security, and is co-funded by Qinetiq.

The project will focus on creating high-energy, high-repetition-rate lasers. It will involve the student working with optical fibre lasers operating at 1mm and combining the output of these systems using polarisation combination to create one output beam. The project aims to harness the major advantages of chirped pulsed amplifier Yb fibre lasers over other solid-state systems by using combination technologies to increase the low (nJ – mJ) energy output into J level pulses at kHz repetition rates. This performance is unobtainable with current systems and the project involves working at the forefront of laser technology to drive innovative development and performance.

We wish to recruit a PhD candidate to undertake this project and be part of a new MoD/EPSRC Energy Transfer Technology Skills and Training Hub (STH). The main aim of the STH is to train the next generation of leaders in energy transfer technologies relevant for defence and other related applications. The Hub is supported by MoD, Dstl, and UK companies working in the defence and security sector. Each student funded by the Hub will have an industrial partner and have opportunities to work with and train alongside experts from industry. The Hub offers individuals training for both research and industrial career paths.

The student will be based at the University of Liverpool but will be part of cohort of approximately 12 PhD students per year across multiple UK institutions. The Skills and Training Hub will run online and face-to-face activities to facilitate cohort building and group learning exercises throughout the PhD programme. The duration of the PhD is 4 years, and the start date is 1st October 2024.

The PhD student will be primarily based in the School of Engineering at the University of Liverpool, working in the laser physics research group led by project supervisor Dr. Laura Corner (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/engineering/staff/laura-corner/ ). The School of Engineering has a thriving research student community and the University of Liverpool’s Postgraduate Researcher Team is sector-leading in its support for PhD students. This project would suit a student with an interest in experimental work and some knowledge of electromagnetism, optics and computing. Previous practical experience with lasers is desirable but not essential, as full training will be provided.

QinetiQ is an integrated global defence and security company focused on mission-led innovation. We employ more than 8,500 highly-skilled people, committed to creating new ways of protecting what matters most; testing technologies, systems, and processes to make sure they meet operational needs; and enabling customers to deploy new and enhanced capabilities with the assurance they will deliver the performance required. QinetiQ is a leader in cutting-edge science and technology and has an established photonics capability covering a wide array of applications. We are keen to support relevant post-graduate studies.

Applicant Eligibility

PhD Candidates must hold a minimum of an upper second-class UK honours degree or international equivalent in a relevant science or engineering discipline. Candidates must be UK Nationals and be willing to apply for and able to obtain Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) clearance.

Application Process

Candidates wishing to apply should complete the University of Liverpool application form [How to apply for a PhD - University of Liverpool] applying for a PhD in Materials Engineering and uploading: Degree Certificates & Transcripts, an up-to-date CV, a covering letter/personal statement and two academic references.

We want all of our staff and Students to feel that Liverpool is an inclusive and welcoming environment that actively celebrates and encourages diversity. We are committed to working with students to make all reasonable project adaptations including supporting those with caring responsibilities, disabilities or other personal circumstances. For example, If you have a disability you may be entitled to a Disabled Students Allowance on top of your studentship to help cover the costs of any additional support that a person studying for a doctorate might need as a result.

We believe everyone deserves an excellent education and encourage students from all backgrounds and personal circumstances to apply.

Candidates wishing to discuss the research project should contact the primary supervisor laura.corner@liverpool.ac.uk, those wishing to discuss the application process should discuss this with the School PGR Office [soepgr@liverpool.ac.uk].


Open to UK applicants

Funding information

Funded studentship

The EPSRC funded Studentship will cover full tuition fees of £4,786 per year and pay a maintenance grant for 4 years, starting at the UKRI minimum of £19,237 pa. for 2024-2025. The Studentship also comes with access to additional funding in the form of a research training support grant which is available to fund conference attendance, fieldwork, internships etc. Please apply by completing the online postgraduate research application form.