Development of laser-based decontamination techniques

Development of laser-based decontamination techniques

Eligibility: UK/EU/International graduates with the required entry requirements

Reasons for eligibility restriction: Funder requirement and timescale

Duration: Full-Time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 31st January 2019

Interview date: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: May 2020

For further details contact: Prof. Jonathan Lawrence

About the project

Decontamination is a vital step in decommissioning nuclear facilities. Most radioactive contaminants are deposited in a thin oxide layer on the base metal surfaces. Various decontamination techniques involving chemical, electrochemical and mechanical methods are applied to remove this surface oxide layer.

these methods have issues so there is a need to develop alternative decontamination techniques which are more effective and do not produce secondary waste.

Laser decontamination occurs through a combination of mechanisms, the relative importance of each depending on the fluence used and the properties of the workpiece surface. Interactions between laser beams and clean surfaces are relatively well understood; however, little work has been undertaken to determine how dirt, oxide layers, paints, etc influence the process dynamics.

Two laser-based decontamination technologies will be investigated and assessed:

(i) nanosecond laser surface ablation; and

(ii) picosecond laser surface ablation. A key focus of this project is to provide a tool set for the remote, non-contact decontamination of strontium and caesium containing corrosion products of aged plant.

The project will also include the first the development of controlled contaminant analogues by using stable caesium and strontium to infiltrate rust layers of pre-corroded steel plates. Microscopy, spectroscopy, X-ray characterisation, augmented by imaging techniques will be applied to investigate the mechanism governing the percolation and absorption of contaminants into the rust layer, and the potential incorporation into the underlying steel matrix.

Funding details

This project is funded by TWI and Coventry University. The studentship will provide successful Home/EU students with a minimum stipend of £16k/year and will cover the cost of tuition fees.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills. All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years
  • A minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)

Candidates should have a degree at 2.1 minimum, or an equivalent overseas degree in mechanical engineering, materials science, physics or chemistry (physical/surface).

How to apply

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

Apply to Coventry University