As part of a recently granted Science Foundation Ireland project, the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Process Analysis (CAPPA) has a PhD project available to develop low-cost technology capable of imaging and identifying microplastic.

Microplastics are a threat that demands fundamental rethinking, they are present in every part of the environment, classifying them as a global environmental problem. One aspect that needs to be addressed is how to accurately identify the particles over a wide particle size distribution using a single instrument. Cost and time are also an obstacle, as testing is limited to specialised laboratories. The aim of the project is to develop a low-cost, high-resolution and large field-of-view instrument that is well suited to the detection and identification of microplastic from 5 mm down to a few microns. This will be achieved by constructing a mid-infrared optical instrument. However, there are several limiting factors for infrared imaging: cost of the equipment, spatial resolution due to the diffraction limit, dealing with a range of sample sizes and speed of data acquisition. The project will overcome these issues by combining two imaging techniques: structured illumination microscopy and single-pixel imaging using a quartz tuning fork.

In this project, the student will work on the development of a single-pixel Mid Infrared imaging microscope. The project will involve the use of quantum cascade lasers, digital micromirror devices and quartz tuning forks. Applicants should have a background in the physical sciences/engineering with a good honours degree (1st or 2.1), or equivalent and/or an MSc, in a relevant subject. This project will appeal to candidates who wish to apply their technical skills in real-world applications.

The scholarship is for 4 years structured PhD programme including fees €5,500 (EU fees for EU residents) and annual stipend €18,500. Outstanding International (Non-EU) Candidates may be considered.

Closing date for applications: 3rd Feb 2023.

Applications should include the following in an email to

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Two reference letters
  • Degree Transcripts/Certificates to date

Supervisors: Dr. Michael McAuliffe and Dr. Anton Walsh. For additional details you can email or