PHD Studentship – Development and validation of innovative, near real-time analytical tools to enable mitigation of contamination within cleanrooms of the UK spacecraft & satellite industry.

The Open University

Unit : 
College of Science, Know-how, Engineering and Arithmetic (STEM)
Wage : 
£22,997 stipend
Location : 
Milton Keynes
Please quote reference : 
Closing Date : 
9 October, 2023 – 12:00

Undertaking Highlights:

  • Alternative to develop experience in innovative unstable natural compound detection and evaluation for contamination detection.
  • Alternative to develop expertise in analytical strategies, contamination management, and supplies and course of (M&P) protocols inside the house sector.
  • This industrial CASE studentship is a collaboration between The Open College (OU) and Airbus Defence and House Ltd (Airbus DS) offering each tutorial and industrial analysis expertise.


The STFC Industrial CASE (Cooperative Awards in Science and Know-how) studentship gives a 3.5-year stipend that enables the scholar to spend intervals of time on placement at Airbus DS in Stevenage, UK. The cumulative placement interval can be a minimum of 9 months however this can be unfold over the interval of the studentship and won’t usually exceed 18 months.

Defending the house atmosphere is a vital twenty first century problem to make sure the house sector stays environmentally sustainable and socially accountable. For those who manufacture house and satellite tv for pc tools, contamination ensuing from surfaces, individuals and supplies is a specific downside that’s poorly understood however may have critical antagonistic impacts on extra-terrestrial environments. 

Many supplies used within the manufacture of spacecraft, notably these used for bonding, are silicone-based. It is because they’re straightforward to make use of, work nicely in a wide range of temperatures, have good adhesion and are UV and ozone resistant.  Sure silicones emit low ranges of unstable gases. Nevertheless, within the house atmosphere, there are each thermal and vacuum results that enhance outgassing of sure compounds that may decide on delicate tools inflicting elements, comparable to lenses, to grow to be contaminated and picture high quality to be diminished. If they’re deposited on tools that lands on a celestial physique, this might contaminate different pure environments, together with those who is likely to be liveable.  

This studentship builds on a profitable Open College/Airbus DS STFC Influence Accelerator Account challenge (scheme may be discovered on-line) and can apply a novel method to unstable evaluation inside house sector cleanrooms.

The goals of this studentship are:

  • To determine, profile and catalogue unstable, semi-volatile and floor natural compounds in cleanrooms and perceive the affect of VOCs on bonding, and cleansing methodologies.
  • To develop strategies, in partnership with the Airbus technical staff, to assist determine particular person contamination compounds, and assess threat of silicone contamination vs treatment.
  • To develop analytical methods to then take care of actual time contamination occasions.
  • To develop and optimise analytical strategies for flight {hardware}, cleanroom surfaces and air.
  • Coaching and expertise:

    The Open College (OU) is predicated in Milton Keynes the place the scholar will obtain coaching in chromatography and mass spectrometry strategies to facilitate the identification of natural compounds. These strategies will embrace Thermal Desorption Gasoline Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (TD-GC-MS), further headspace evaluation strategies, and Selective Ion Circulate Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS).

    The coed will obtain coaching in M&P protocols in step with contamination management at Airbus’ Stevenage website, which focuses on spacecraft manufacturing and performed a key position within the meeting of the ExoMars rover.  They’ll have the chance to shadow the M&P workers and cleanliness management engineers when on website. They’ll find out how cleanrooms perform, ISO requirements and why specialist clothes is required for the completely different ISO requirements. They’ll be capable to observe the present laboratory strategies in use (FTIR) and be capable to evaluate these to their very own strategies/outcomes.

    The coed will profit from bespoke coaching organised by the College of Earth, Setting and Ecosystem Sciences (EEES) and by AstrobiologyOU, together with mandated coaching, comparable to well being and security and laboratory expertise. They’ll profit from being a member of a cross-school analysis group, with related in-house coaching.  AstrobiologyOU provides devoted coaching occasions and seminars, together with CV-writing help, managing budgets and fellowship writing coaching. AstrobiologyOU is dedicated to figuring out educating alternatives for any scholar that needs them and providing public engagement alternatives to help communication expertise growth. 

    Doable timeline:

    12 months 1: Carry out a literature evaluation and create preliminary databases of cleanroom compounds. Preliminary placements (seemingly 2 weeks in length) at Airbus for supplies and processes coaching, and pattern assortment. Coaching on analytical tools.

    12 months 2: Optimise strategies and react to actual time occasions that happen. Additional placements (between 2-4 weeks every) to proceed pattern assortment and react to contamination occasions. Presentation at nationwide/worldwide convention.

    12 months 3-3.5: Consolidation of all strategies and develop remaining protocols. Additional placement, convention displays. Thesis writing and submission.

    Additional studying:

    Additional particulars:

    College students ought to have a powerful background in analytical chemistry and an curiosity in planetary or house science. The PhD scholar can be a member of the College of Earth, Setting and Ecosystems Sciences and the cross-faculty AstrobiologyOU group , and can be a part of a vibrant postgraduate neighborhood on the Open College.

    Please contact Claire Batty ([email protected] ) for additional info.

    Purposes ought to embrace:

    • a canopy letter outlining why the challenge is of curiosity to you and the way your expertise match these required.
    • an educational CV containing contact particulars of two tutorial references.
    • an OU utility type, downloadable from: students/analysis/system/information/paperwork/application-form-uk.docx

    Purposes must be despatched to [email protected]   by 12pm (midday) on  ninth October 2023

    E-mail :

    [email protected]  

    Posting Date : 
    18 September, 2023 – 11:15

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