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PhD in Physics of Electron Beam Gun Design

Brunel University
PhD Studentship between TWI Ltd and Brunel University

Location: TWI Ltd (Abington, Cambridge) and Brunel University (Uxbridge, West London)

Duration: Three years

Bursary: Ł16,000 p.a. plus fees

Start date: September/October 2012


The Electron Beam (EB) Section at TWI is focused on developing electron beam welding and materials processing for a wide range of applications. The Section is also involved in prototype equipment design and engineering. The Section has established a world lead in the design of high power EB generators and associated electron optics and deflection systems used for materials processing. Design is carried out analytically, and then optimised with 2D and 3D finite element modelling software. Prototypes are built and tested in a dedicated laboratory facility.

Key challenges in forthcoming developments include: i) the design of more mobile high power, thick section, welding equipment, ii) high brightness, low power electron guns for micro manufacturing processes and iii) the design of high intensity electron beam for additive manufacturing systems. In the first case the improved mobility, without reduction in performance, of the equipment is of interest. Novel approaches will be required to understand the sources of beam aberration, how to optimise electron optical designs to give the highest intensity beams, the effect of space-charge on the beam intensity and the effects of reduced vacuum on beam quality. Theoretical characteristics and real physical performance of a number of EB gun designs may be considered.


The project will be jointly supervised by Brunel University ( and TWI Ltd. ( The university academic supervisors will be Dr David Smith and Professor Akram Khan in the Centre for Sensors and Instrumentation, School of Engineering and Design at Brunel University, and the industrial supervisor will be Mr Colin Ribton at TWI Ltd. The student will be based primarily with the sponsor company, TWI Ltd (located in Cambridge), working with state-of-the-art electron beam welding and processing equipment, returning to the University to attend events such as scientific and non-scientific short courses, meetings, and to use characterisation facilities. The costs of travel and accommodation associated with the time spent at Brunel University will be covered by TWI Ltd.

Professional Development

Brunel Graduate School supports all postgraduates and early career researchers with the university through the provision of a comprehensive skills development programme, workshops and networking events, research prizes and 24/7 study and social facilities. In addition, the student will participate in selected courses of TWI Ltd’s graduate development programme and will be encouraged to work towards Chartered Engineer status with the relevant Professional Institute (for example, IOP). A suitable mentor will be provided by TWI Ltd.


Applicants should have or expect to obtain the equivalent of a 2.1 or first class undergraduate degree in engineering or physics and should have excelled in previous study of physics, electronics and/or mathematics. A postgraduate degree in these subject areas is also desirable, but not a necessity. The terms of the studentship are the full payment of Home/EU fees for a maximum of three years, and Ł16,000 per year, subject to annual review and satisfactory progress.

Applications should be sent by email marked for the attention of Dr David Smith, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH to by clicking Apply Online below