Optics-based distributed magnetic field and temperature sensor

History and purpose

A fully funded PhD scholarship is available for researching and developing composites and devices for fibre-optic based magnetic field and temperature sensors at the Robinson Research Institute. The Institute is part of Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington and is based in Lower Hutt, New Zealand.

The key novel idea is to investigate and use magneto-chromic composites for the detection of the magnetic field where a magnetic field leads to a colour change in the composite. This is a new research area and the successful candidate can potentially lead this research field through the development of new composites as well as a fundamental understanding of the underlying physics. The applications included distributed magnetic field and temperature sensing for greater reliability of power generation, distribution, and electric transport systems.

The thesis work will involve making the components for magneto-chromic composites via thin film fabrication and solid-state synthesis. They will then be studied using methods such as X-ray diffraction, electron microscopy, optical, and magnetic measurements.

All the equipment is located at either the Robinson Research Institute or the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences on the University's Kelburn campus, including fully equipped synthesis and optics laboratories, and New Zealand’s only high field (up to 9 T) magnetic and transport measurement systems. Access to additional resources is available through our affiliation with the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology The magneto-chromic composites will be tested by coupling to optical fibre systems and the results will also be used to develop models and a better understanding of how an applied magnetic field leads to a colour change.

This PhD project is part of a New Zealand government funded interdisciplinary Smart Idea on “Optics-based distributed magnetic field and temperature sensor for enhanced power infrastructure reliability” that involves physicists, chemists, and electrical engineers.


Applicants should have a degree equivalent to the 4-year Physics (Honours) degree in New Zealand, with 1st class Honours, or an MSc or postgraduate diploma with high grades (i.e., GPA > 3.6/4). We are seeking a highly motivated person with an excellent academic record, a good understanding of physics, and the ability to work well in a team. Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington and applicants should ensure that they can satisfy the English language requirements.

Funding information

The successful PhD applicant will receive a stipend of $30,000 per annum for 3 years, as well as payment of all university tuition fees, student levies and insurance for overseas student.


Send an email to Prof Grant Williams (Grant.Williams@vuw.ac.nz) and Dr Shen Chong (shen.chong@vuw.ac.nz) with PhD scholarship in “Optics-based distributed magnetic field and temperature sensor” in the subject line.

Include the following information in your application:

  • a full curriculum vitae, including your university grades
  • evidence of your English language ability that satisfies the University's requirements
  • your expected starting date.