PhD Studentship: Modeling of the electrospray process for application in spacecraft propulsion

United Kingdom
May 25, 2017
May 18, 2018
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time
PhD Studentship: Modeling of the electrospray process for application in spacecraft propulsion

Engineering & the Environment

Location: Highfield Campus

Closing Date:  Friday 18 May 2018

Reference: 872817F2

Project Reference: NGCM-117

Electrospray is a process to create a fine mist of monodisperse nanometre sized charged droplets or ions. By the application of an electric field to a conductive fluid situated at the tip of a needle, charged droplets, or ions in the case of a highly conductive fluid, can be emitted. It has applications in spacecraft propulsion (where the charged particles can impart a change in momentum on the spacecraft), focused ion beam micromachining (where the emitted charged particles can be used to etch away the surface of a material), or mass spectrometry of samples (where the emitted charged droplets contain a biological sample, which is analysed using a mass spectrometer).

Given its myriad of applications, electrospray is relatively poorly understood. Due to the large variation in length scales that occurs and the complex electrohydrodynamic physics it is difficult to understand the intricacies of the electrospray emission process. For example it is understood that in some circumstances solely ions can be emitted from the electrospray needle, rather than charged droplets, but how and when ions are emitted is not completely known.

This PhD project will attempt to simulate the electrospray process, with a particular emphasis on the simulation of the emission of ions. A survey of current simulation techniques of the electrospray process will be completed, followed by the initiation of a model based upon best techniques currently employed within the field. The simulation will include both hydrodynamic effects and electric field effects, starting with solution to the LaPlace equation, then moving towards inclusion of Poisson’s equation.

We are looking for an applicant with a background in physics, engineering, mathematics, or computer science, and an appetite to learn and research across conventional discipline boundaries.

The stipend is at the standard EPSRC levels. More details on facilities and computing equipment are available

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Charlie Ryan, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 598345

This project is run through participation in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Next Generation Computational Modelling ( For details of our 4 Year PhD programme, please see;=2652

For a details of available projects click here

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Further details:

  • Job Description and Person Specification