PhD Opportunities

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PhD: Fusion and Fission Graphite Analysis and Treatment

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  • Supervising organisations: University of Bristol School of Physics and UK Atomic Energy Authority 
  • Funding: fully-funded with tax-free stipend of £17,609.00 per year, for the 4 years project duration.
  • Application deadline: 30th July 2021 for October 2021 start 

The objective of this project is to develop techniques for processing graphite waste to reduce the volume of the waste needing disposal, initially on a lab-scale, by extracting key isotopes with potentially useful applications. Working with real samples of irradiated graphite from both fission and fusion reactors, you will be designing and testing processes to treat this fascinating material using chemical and physical techniques.

Working on the techniques for decommissioning is a contribution to supporting the UK’s clean energy aspirations and makes this PhD very applied rather than theoretical, where a large component of the project will be experimental. In addition to working in labs, interpersonal skills will also be important because interactions, collaboration and joint work with industry partners will be routine. You will develop a range of transferable practical skills relevant to nuclear industries, in particular fission and fusion.

This project is funded by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), based in Culham, Oxfordshire. The student will work closely with experts at UKAEA, who are developing significant new capabilities in this area for the national nuclear programme.


PhD: VR-based haptic robot teleoperation for handling nuclear material in glove boxes


  • Supervising organisations: University of the West of England
  • Funding: offered on a self-funding or similar basis
  • Start date: October 2021 or January 2022

The PhD student will work on a technical solution for a human operator to control a dual-arm robot system inside a glovebox. As human-robot interface it will be investigated whether using a virtual reality (VR) headset and haptic feedback from the robot can be integrated into an immersive teleoperation setup for glovebox teleoperation. For this, the student will make use of existing commercial of the shelf (COTS) robot hardware, including standard industrial robot arms and grippers, and consumer VR headsets. We propose to investigate the following research questions as part of this PhD project:

  • What are the minimum technical requirements in a teleoperated robot system for safe handling of nuclear materials in the confined space of a glove box?
  • How can haptic feedback of a robot gripper or a robot hand be efficiently used as input for an operator handling nuclear materials?
  • Does the usage of VR-interfaces and haptic feedback lead to an efficient and safe solution for robot teleoperation inside glove boxes, while also reducing the cognitive load for the human operator?
  • Can haptic feedback be visualised?


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