Miniature Mass Spectrometry


Mass spectrometry (MS) and ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) are versatile analytical techniques that allow general-purpose chemical detection and measurement. These popular techniques offer high sensitivity, selectivity and fast response times. For instance, portable IMS is routinely used for a wide range of applications, including detection of contaminants in the pharmaceutical industry, detection of narcotics by law enforcement and detection of explosives and chemical weapons by military.

The Mass Spectrometry & Instrumentation (MSI) research group at the University of Liverpool has experience developing bespoke analytical instrumentation dating back to the 1960s, including ion mobility and mass spectrometry technologies ( You will join this vibrant research group based in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Electronics ( at the University of Liverpool.

In this PhD project you will undertake research developing portable mass spectrometry and/or ion mobility instrumentation. More details about the project specifics are available upon request; there is some scope to tailor the emphasis of the project to suit the interests, experience and skillset of the applicant. Due to the nature of this research it is likely to result in new inventions and the University is very supportive in this regard (with respect to supporting patent applications and aiding commercialisation activities).

You should have a strong background and passion for electronics (electronics design, schematic capture, PCB layout, writing firmware, etc.). The project can be tailored if the applicant has a particularly strong skillet (e.g., preference towards analogue or digital). The ideal candidate should have a passion for electronics. It is desirable to have experience in mechanical design and production, e.g., 3D printing and 3D CAD drawing, although not essential. You should have a degree in physical sciences, mathematics or an engineering discipline (e.g., electronic engineering). Masters level students are encouraged to apply. If you have relevant experience (e.g., prior project experience, related work experience, project portfolio, publications, demonstrable interest in the topic, etc.), you are also encouraged to apply. In exceptional circumstances those with a non-traditional educational background will be considered, dependent upon relevant experience. Applicants will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If you are interested, please email Prof Simon Maher ( with the project title in the subject of your email, include a copy of your CV and a cover letter/email detailing previous electronics projects you have undertaken from conception to realisation, and the problems they solved.

Please note: applications are accepted year-round until a suitable candidate is found, so the currently advertised date may be subject to change.


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Self-funded project

The project is open worldwide, to applicants of any nationality. Please note that this position is unfunded/self-funded. Therefore, it is required that any applicant should have a funding source in place (e.g., government scholarship, self-funding, etc), in which case they are encouraged to contact the Principal Supervisor directly to discuss their application and the project.

The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees and their living expenses, as well as a research bench fee of at least £1250 per year (dependent upon the agreed project outline).

Details regarding the PhD tuition fees (i.e., postgraduate research) can be found on the University website.