Investigation of the stability of Silicon Photomultiplier based gamma and neutron detectors for industrial applications

The University of Surrey is offering a PhD studentship through the Radiation Detection Doctoral Network ‘RadNet’. 

Application deadline
Funding information

The studentship is funded for 3.5 years at normal UKRI studentship rates (equal to approximately £14,000 per year). Funding is provided by the Radnet Doctoral network and from the two sponsoring companies. The student will be expected to attend regular project meetings with the company sponsors, and to spend some time on placement at the companies during the duration of the PhD.


This is a new collaborative doctoral training programme carrying out research and training in radiation detection and applications. The network is run by a consortium of the Universities of Surrey, Sussex and Royal Holloway, in collaboration with our industrial partners National Physical Laboratory, Kromek, Hilger Crystals, Ultra Energy and Rapiscan Systems. The network is also supported by the South East Physics Network (SEPnet). The Radnet doctoral training network brings together PhD researchers, academics and industrial scientists and engineers to focus on collaborative research projects which are directly applicable to industrial challenges.

The emergence of silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs) with low power requirements and compact form have enabled a new generation of handheld and portable detector systems to be developed. NPL and Kromek are interested in developing such detectors for a variety of applications; such as on-site fast neutron spectrometry, homeland security and citizen science radiation monitoring. As these devices will be used outside of the laboratory it is vital to understand how they are affected by environmental conditions (temperature, humidity etc.). This PhD project is proposed to investigate the stability of SiPM based gamma and/or neutron detectors. The outcomes of the project will be:

  • An understanding of what causes instability in SiPMs and in the detector materials. 
  • An understanding of how instability affects the accuracy of radiation measurement. 
  • Technical solutions to mitigate or correct for instability. 
  • Improved handheld and portable SiPM based detector systems for applications such as on-site fast neutron spectrometry, homeland security and citizen science radiation monitoring.

The project will involve: 

  • Determining the requirements of SiPM based detectors for a variety of applications of interest to Kromek / NPL. 
  • Using an environmental chamber to investigate the effect of temperature and humidity on the electronic response of SiPM; material degradation of the SiPM and various detector materials; spectrum measurement accuracy; and dose measurement accuracy (using NPL facilities). 
  • Designing technological solutions to mitigate or correct for instability. 
  • Testing/validating technological solutions. 
  • Working collaboratively with colleagues at Kromek / NPL / Surrey.

Training and Research Opportunities

As a member of the Radnet doctoral network you will benefit from close connections between your host University and your training companies. With two industry-leading companies associated with your research project, you will have outstanding opportunities for industrial placements, cross-network training events, and access to additional researcher opportunities through the SEPnet Graduate School and the NPL Postgraduate Institute. Radnet PhD students will be uniquely equipped to carry out high quality doctoral research, and to deliver industry-relevant solutions for UK companies.

Related links
National Physical Laboratory Kromek Hilger Crystals Ultra Energy Rapiscan South East Physics Network (SEPnet) Radnet

Eligibility criteria

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a 2:1 bachelors degree, and preferably a masters degree, in an appropriate discipline (e.g. engineering, material sciences, physics or related subject).

If English is not the first language, IELTS 6.5 or above (or equivalent) is required, with no sub-test score less than 6.

Open to European/UK students only.

How to apply

Applications are welcome from UK and EU students for studentships starting in October 2018. Applications are invited from students with a first degree in physics or engineering (upper second class or higher) and who are strongly self-motivated and interested in industrially-relevant doctoral research.

Applications should be submitted online through our PhD Physics course.

Please state the project title and supervisor clearly on all applications – preferably as part of the project title.   

Application deadline

Contact details

Annika Lohstroh
17 BB 03
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 689419
Paul Sellin
08 BC 04
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 682747
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