Supervisory Team: Min Kwan Kim (80%) / C. William Keevil (20%)

Project description

This PhD project aims to develop a novel and cost-effective atmospheric pressure plasma-assisted technology to support future planetary exploration missions and human spaceflight.

Planetary protection is receiving growing in the design of an interplanetary mission. It aims to prevent biological and organic terrestrial contamination of the Martian atmosphere and/or terrestrial space through crewed mission and backward biological contamination of earth through returning crew/spacecraft from other planets. The Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), part of the UN’s International Council of Science (ICSU), has developed the procedures and methods of planetary protection, baking all spacecraft components at 115 degrees Celsius for over 50 hours before being packed for launch. The problem is that many sophisticated modern spacecraft components can’t handle that extreme temperature. Therefore, one of the high priority issues for upcoming space missions in the extraterrestrial field is developing a novel method that can rapidly decontaminate thermally sensitive spacecraft components. 

In this PhD project, the candidate will develop a novel and cost-effective low-temperature plasma-based technology to address both forward and backward biological contamination issues associated with crewed and uncrewed missions. The candidate will also investigate and utilize non-thermal plasma sources to determine the effect of plasma and environmental parameters for plasma-activated water to be used in human spaceflight as an alternative to chemical disinfectants.

The project will closely collaborate with the School of Biological Science at the Faculty of Environmental and Life Science and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (USA). Through this PhD project, the candidate will have a unique interdisciplinary research opportunity on investigating advanced plasma technologies which can introduce a paradigm shift in future space missions.

This studentship covers UK level tuition fees and provides an annual tax-free stiped at the standard EPSRC rate, which is £15,609 for 2021/22, for up to 3.5 years. The ideal candidate should have a first-class degree in a general Engineering area (Mechanical, Aerospace, Chemical etc) or Applied Mathematics.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Minkwan Kim (email: [email protected] / Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 2716).

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date : applications should be received no later than 31 July 2021 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £15,609 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

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