Robinson Research Institute – PhD Scholarship: AC loss in HTS rotor windings

Study area(s): Engineering; Science
Scholarship level: Doctoral
Tenure: Three years
Number offered: One
Value: $30,000 per annum for three years plus full fees


Reducing global carbon emissions from heavy freight and passenger transport requires the switch to electric propulsion for rail, shipping, and aviation. But these applications require new high-power lightweight motors which are beyond the design-envelope accessible by existing technologies. It is widely recognised that superconducting machines offer the only feasible route to realising large-scale hybrid electric aircraft. Aviation poses perhaps the biggest challenge of all, as entirely new technology must be developed and deployed within a strict regulatory regime.

We have a fully funded PhD scholarship available for research into experimental and numerical study of energy dissipation (AC loss) in high temperature superconducting (HTS) rotor windings for fully superconducting rotating machines aimed at aircraft applications.

The project will target experimental and numerical AC loss studies in 2G coated conductors, Roebel cables/twisted stacks/CORC cables assembled with coated conductors and operating in the temperature range of 40 K – 77 K carrying DC current while exposed to an AC magnetic field. The experimental work will be carried out using the AC loss measurement system currently under development at the Robinson Research Institute. This equipment incorporates an AC copper magnet operating in liquid nitrogen and is able to generate a 0.5 T AC magnetic field at frequencies up to 200 Hz. The sample, located in a cryogenic vacuum chamber, will be separately cooled to temperatures between 40 K and 80 K by two powerful cryocoolers. The simulation work will be carried out using FEM (finite element method). 3D FEM models will be built considering the complicated 3D structure of Roebel cables/twisted stacks/CORCs using COMSOL- Multi-Physics. The 3D simulation model will be validated by experiments and the model will be used to predict AC loss in field windings operating within the actual rotating machine environment.

This project is part of a larger MBIE funded programme  ‘High Power Electric Motors for Large-scale Transport programme’ which involves researchers from other parts of New Zealand, international collaborators Cambridge University, KAIST (Korea), Kyoto University and Ohio State University, and is undertaken in conjunction with commercial partners United Technologies, Airbus and Boeing.


The multidisciplinary Robinson Research Institute is internationally recognised for the impact of our applied research into superconductivity and electromagnetic technologies. Our world-leading programmes in materials and engineering deliver globally sought-after graduates and transform tomorrow’s industries.


Applicants should have an engineering or science degree equivalent to the 4-year Honours degree in New Zealand, with 1st class Honours, or an MSc/MEng or postgraduate Diploma with high grades. We are seeking a highly motivated person with an excellent academic record with passion to contribute the cutting-edge technology development.

Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate within the Faculty of Engineering, Victoria University of Wellington and should ensure that they can satisfy the English language requirements.


  • Applicants should have a strong background in electrical engineering or applied physics background and experience with working with COMSOL Multiphysics would be advantageous.

Application process

For more information, send an email titled “Re: PhD - AC loss in HTS rotor windings” to

Applicants should include the following:

(i)  Curriculum Vitae, 
(ii)  A summary of university grades, 
(iii) A statement detailing why you are interested in this project, 
(iv) Contact information for two potential referees.

Selection process

The successful recipient will be selected by the Robinson Research Institute Scholarship panel.

Regulations and conditions

Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a Master of Engineering candidate at Victoria University of Wellington. They will also need to sign a Victoria Research Scholarship contract.


For more information, please email: