Industrial PhD project - design and build of novel scientific instrumentation

In collaboration with Torr Scientific, this project will involve design and construction of a prototype ultra-high-vacuum compatible compact X-ray monochromator for use in X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.

Start date

1 October 2024


3.5 years

Application deadline

Funding source

Torr Scientific/University of Surrey Matched Funding

Funding information

Funding covers a stipend of £20,000 pa (tax free) and UK “home” tuition fees for 3.5 years. Funding is available to cover travel, conferences and consumables.


X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) is the primary technique employed to determine the chemical composition and chemical state of material surfaces, with an analysis depth of approximately 5 nm. For the highest quality chemical state information, the energy resolution of the acquired spectrum should be enhanced. This is achieved via the X-ray source being monochromated using single crystal diffraction. Commercial XPS instruments have a large, bulky monochromator that is external to the sample chamber, typically with a quartz crystal. This project aims to design and construct a compact monochromator that sits largely within the analysis chamber, lowering cost and simplifying the instrumentation for small-spot XPS analysis. This new monochromator will require novel approaches to design and materials compared to existing systems. This PhD is a collaboration between Torr Scientific (Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex; Torr Scientific | Specialists in UHV, Optical & Xray Components) and Dr Mark Baker in the Surface Analysis Laboratory at the University of Surrey (Surface Analysis Laboratory | University of Surrey), with the student being based in the R&D Department at Torr Scientific.

The project will involve deployment of the monochromator crystal in a novel way and identification of a material with more favourable diffraction characteristics than quartz. This could include micro-mechanical modification of the crystal allowing it to bend to the correct angle or superposition of small individual crystals in a novel arrangement. Alternative technological approaches will also be explored. The new crystal design needs to be fabricated and a test facility established at Torr Scientific. A prototype design of the monochromator employing the new crystal using the chosen technology will then be developed, manufactured and assembled. Performance testing will take place on the XPS instrumentation at Surrey. 

Eligibility criteria

Eligibility follows standard research council rules and include UK/Irish citizenship or ordinary residence within the UK for 3 years prior to the funding commencing, but please note that in the latter case only home fees will be covered.

Candidates must meet Surrey graduate entry requirements which include holding at least an upper second-class degree or equivalent qualifications in a relevant subject area such as mechanical engineering, physics, materials science or chemistry. A Masters degree in a relevant discipline and additional research experience would be an advantage.


How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Engineering Materials PhD programme page. In place of a research proposal, you should upload a document stating the title of the project that you wish to apply for and the name of the relevant supervisor.

Engineering Materials PhD

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Application deadline

Contact details

Mark Baker
10 AB 03
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 686294

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