Advanced laser diagnostics investigating the fluid mechanics of primary breakup

Efficient spray atomization plays a notable role in society, ranging from effective medical delivery, to product manufacturing, to cleaner propulsion systems. Primary breakup – the process of disintegrating an intact liquid core into large droplets, called primary drops – is the first consequential first step of atomization, but is also the least well understood.

This PhD position focuses on sophisticated experimental measurements that resolve the fundamental fluid dynamics that govern the primary breakup processes at liquid/gas interfaces at the core of an atomizing spray. Visualization of the liquid core will be performed using (1) Ballistic Imaging and (2) Two-Photon Laser Induced Fluorescence imaging. These diagnostics will be combined with wavelet-based optical flow to spatially resolve the velocity and acceleration along liquid/gas interfaces from successive image frames. These methods are currently being developed in phase 1 of this project. We will apply these diagnostics to a variety of transparent nozzles ranging from enlarged nozzles specially designed to isolate turbulence, shear, and cavitation, as well as real-size transparent nozzles (100’s of microns). Passive imaging methods will be used to visualize events inside the nozzle to correlate the breakup fluid mechanics with the breakup genesis inside the nozzle. These studies are intended for a wide range of spray applications (e.g., agricultural, medical, spray draying, combustion).

Candidates who enjoy fluid mechanics and are interested in laser diagnostics are encouraged to apply. Project partners include RWTH Aachen University (Germany) and Sandia National Laboratories (California, USA). There is opportunity to work closely and visit these institutions during the PhD.

The intended PhD start date is in late Summer, early Autumn 2024. 

This position may close earlier than the closing date stated if a suitable candidate is found. Early application is encouraged.

Further Information: 

The University of Edinburgh is committed to equality of opportunity for all its staff and students, and promotes a culture of inclusivity. Please see details here:

Closing Date: 

Wednesday, February 5, 2025

Principal Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Tuition fees + stipend are available for Home/EU and International students

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: