University of Cambridge

Job Opportunities


PhD Studentship in Enhanced EM/RF modelling and design for ultra-fast digital communications and 21-cm cosmology (Fixed Term)

The Astrophysics Group of the Department of Physics, University of Cambridge, and British Telecommunications Plc invite applications for an Industrial CASE funded studentship in enhanced EM/RF modelling and design for ultra-fast digital communications and 21-cm cosmology.

We are looking for an excellent student to undertake a PhD research program in Electromagnetic (EM) modeling and design at Radio Frequencies (RF). This program will explore common issues in the design and calibration of instrumentation for 21-cm cosmology experiments such as the Cosmic Dawn (CD) and the Epoch of Re-ionization (EoR), and the design of transceivers for ultra-fast digital communications over the twisted pair network.

The twisted copper pair network was deployed decades ago and it was not designed to support the current and future demands for high volume of data. The fibre network is slowly expanding due to its unaffordable upfront cost, hence ubiquitous fibre remains decades distant in the horizon. Until full coverage is realised, the existing copper network proved to be multigigabit data rates capable with the emergence of its 450 MHz XGFAST technology. Optimising data transmission through this network is therefore of the highest importance to sustain future demands. This will be done by understanding the physics in twisted pair communications and designing more efficient transceivers. Effects such as the EM coupling between the twisted pairs, exploiting higher transmission modes, impedance matching to the transceivers or the effect of the environment in the cable bundles shall be part of the program.

These issues are also key in the design of instruments for modern cosmology experiments. The understanding of the formation and evolution of the first luminous celestial objects is one of the fundamental objectives of modern cosmology. The detection of the redshifted radio emission from the Hydrogen clouds that were the raw material forming the first stars is the leading technique. This is a challenging endeavour due to the level of the cosmological signal (~ 10s of mK) buried in much brighter foreground signals. The student will explore ways to design easy to calibrate, highly sensitive, spectrally smooth instruments for 21-cm cosmology experiments (EoR and CD, SKA, HERA, Global experiments) based on the same physical principles and techniques.

This is an opportunity to research in a top academic and industrial environment contributing to knowledge exchange between the two. We are looking for a top class student with a good physics and/or engineering first degree.

The project will be supervised by Dr E de Lera Acedo (University of Cambridge) and Dr A Mohsin (British Telecommunications Plc).

We invite applications from recent graduates or final year undergraduates who hold, or expect to obtain, the equivalent of at least a 2:i UK four-year "undergraduate Master's" (Honours) degree or a UK three-year Bachelor's (Honours) degree plus a relevant one/two-year Master's degree in a relevant science or engineering discipline. Full requirements of the University of Cambridge and the Department of Physics apply.

Full funding at the RCUK rate for this four year project is available for UK students and EU students resident in the UK for the past three years.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available until 30 September 2021 in the first instance.

Applications for this studentship should be made through the standard online Graduate Admission and Scholarship Application Form (GRADSAF) for the University of Cambridge.

For further information contact Mrs Karen Scrivener at

The closing date for applications is 5 May 2017.

Please quote reference KA11893 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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