Centres for Doctoral Training

Here you'll find information about the Centres for Doctoral Training at Imperial College London involved in this year's CDT Festival of Science.

ICO Nuclear Energy

The EPSRC Imperial, Cambridge, and Open University (ICO) Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) was established in 2014. Nuclear Engineering is an exciting field which needs a new generation of future leaders. Our CDT programme will provides a firm footing in the industry, with a solid academic training programme, as well as providing new innovation and research new technologies to maintain capability, explore new opportunities for growth and expansion of the global nuclear landscape.

Plastic Electronics

The PE-CDT is a joint venture with Oxford University and Queen Mary University of London, and several industrial partners to train doctoral scientists in this exciting, fast moving and interdisciplinary field. The aim of the CDT is to graduate students with interdisciplinary experience and capability in the science and applications of plastic electronic materials and devices, with an understanding of the associated industry, and with the ability to adapt and develop new technologies and applications.

Theory and Simulation of Materials

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training on Theory and Simulation of Materials (TSM-CDT) is the UK's centre of excellence in theory and simulation. The central research theme of the CDT is the development of theoretical and computational techniques that enable the transfer of information between different scales to provide a more holistic understanding of materials. Since the study of materials at particular length scales has traditionally resided in Physics/Chemistry, Materials and Engineering departments the bridging of treatments at different scales will normally require supervision from experts in different departments.

Our CDT breaks the traditional mould by bringing together students with a broad training in TSM across the scales with at least two academic supervisors with expertise in different scales, and hence usually from different departments. The central theme is bridging length- and time-scales, and this underlies all of the research projects carried out in the CDT. All of the research is carried out within the environment provided by the Thomas Young Centre (TYC) - the London Centre for Theory and Simulation of Materials.

Controlled Quantum Dynamics

Recent theoretical and experimental developments have led researchers to use the laws of quantum mechanics in new ways, allowing unprecedented control over the dynamics of small numbers of quantum systems. Unintuitive quantum phenomena such as entanglement, teleportation, nonlocality and interference are within our control, and now we are learning that they can actually be very useful.

A key feature of this field is its high degree of inter-disciplinarity. Quantum Information Science is not just done by physicists, there are also large numbers of computer scientists, mathematicians, chemists and even biologists getting involved. The field is also providing new insights into the structure of quantum mechanics, and many new results in the field of Foundations of Quantum Mechanics.

Institute of Chemical Biology

The Institute of Chemical Biology (ICB)'s mission is to support and develop multidisciplinary research crossing the physical sciences-life sciences/biomedical interface. In particular we focus on the development and application of novel tools and technology for solving major problems in the life and biomedical sciences. Founded in 2003, the institute is now established as a world leading centre in multi-disciplinary PhD training for researchers working at the interface of the Life and Physical Sciences.

The central research theme at our CDT is Chemical Biology, which is a strategically important area of research for the UK and looks at the measurement, calculation and understanding of molecular interactions in biology. This includes protein-protein and protein-lipid interactions, particularly those that are of medicinal importance. Students learn how to harness existing techniques and develop new ones for the study of these biochemically important processes.

Industry links form an important part of our CDT with about a quarter of studentships sponsored by companies including AstraZeneca, GSK and Pfizer. The quality of research undertaken by our students has been such that we have been able to secure ~£40M in follow-on funding to further develop and apply novel technologies that have emerged from research pioneered by our students.

Neurotechnology for Life and Health

Neurotechnology is the use of insights and tools from mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and engineering to investigate neural function and treat dysfunction. Brain-related illnesses affect more than two billion people worldwide, and the numbers are growing. Reducing this burden is a major challenge for society. The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) will train a new generation of multidisciplinary researchers at the interface of neuroscience and engineering, to address this challenge.

The CDT spans the Faculties of Engineering, Natural Sciences and Medicine at Imperial, with investigators from fourteen different departments. All research projects involve a team of supervisors, each bringing complementary expertise to the project. In addition to researchers from across Imperial College, the Centre involves twenty industry and charity partners, as well as satellite research groups at the Crick Institute, UCL Sainsbury-Wellcome Centre and the University of Oxford.

Advanced Charaterisation of Materials

The Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Characterization of Materials has been funded by the EPSRC to train a critical mass of new scientists to be experts in the application of advanced analytical techniques for materials development and to remain internationally competitive. Students will be carrying out cutting-edge research projects using the complementary skills and experience of two of the world’s leading research universities; University College London (UCL) and Imperial College London.

Advanced Characterization of Materials is fundamental to the development of new products and new materials; it has a pivotal role in key EPSRC thematic areas including Energy, IT, Healthcare, Security and Transport. Advances in electronics, photovoltaics, corrosion, biomaterials, advanced ceramics, composites, membranes, nanotechnology, fullerenes and graphene depend on the detailed characterisation of the bulk, interfaces and surfaces of the constituent materials. Future benefits of nanomaterials rely on sophisticated feedback of the material properties during the R&D phase.

Mathematics of Planet Earth

Climate change represents an urgent challenge for humanity. Quantifying uncertainty in long‐term climate prediction and estimating the potential strength of extreme meteorological events in the face of global warming are very difficult research questions, with large economic and societal impacts that will only grow in the future.

In response to this challenge, Imperial College London and the University of Reading have joined forces to create the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in the Mathematics of Planet Earth (MPE). Students in the MPE CDT will receive cohort-based PhD training in the mathematical and computational techniques needed to understand, predict and quantify risk and uncertainty for extreme weather and climate change. In particular, our PhD students will receive training which ranges from the data-driven domain represented by statistics, to the model-driven domain represented by analysis and mechanics.

This is the challenge that the CDT as a whole will address, and each student will be able to choose the particular areas of research that suit their individual taste and talents.

The MPE CDT students will graduate with substantial, interdisciplinary experience in applying cutting-edge mathematics to challenging and urgent problems, and will have developed the teamwork, communication, management and leadership skills needed for a successful career.

High Performance Embedded and Distributed Systems

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in HiPEDS (High-Performance Embedded and Distributed Systems) encompasses everything from smart implantable sensors, DNA sequencers and custom graphical chips to computer vision algorithms, software networking and security, and parallel computation. The CDT unites high-level electronic engineering with computing research to produce novel systems and programs, in scenarios with stringent constraints on power, speed, and size. Research aims are providing high-impact solutions to difficult parallelization, miniaturization and communication problems, that could yield breakthroughs for today's technologies.

The HiPEDS CDT aims to train the next generation of computing and electronic engineering experts. Work focuses on developing novel systems and programs to tackle engineering scenarios with stringent constraints on power, speed, and size. Students combine high level electronic engineering and advanced computing research to yield a balanced software and hardware approach for subjects ranging from smart implantable sensors, to machine vision and learning and secure cloud service providers.

Fluid Dynamics across Scales

This newly established Centre for Doctoral Training provides a world-leading post-graduate education in Fluid Mechanics that breaks down the traditional barriers between different disciplines, with seven departments and over 60 academics involved. The Centre will train 75 PhD students in the next five years.

Fluid Dynamics is one of Imperial College’s strengths, with Fluid Mechanics groups active in all seven Departments contributing to the CDT, and 60 research-active supervisors. Virtually every aspect of fluid mechanics is covered: microfluidics, combustion, aerodynamics, turbulence, multi-phase flow, flow in porous media, wave processes, flow control, biological fluid mechanics, environmental fluid mechanics and geophysical fluid mechanics. The research funding from EPSRC for fluid mechanics across Imperial currently exceeds £60M.

Sustainable Civil Engineering

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Civil Engineering adopts the widest possible definition of sustainability, covering the effective whole life design and performance of major civil engineering infrastructure. The Centre will address key engineering challenges of fit for purpose, economic viability, environmental impact, resilience, infrastructure inter-dependence and durability.

The Centre has structured its research around six main themes: the uncertainty associated with future change, whole life cycle, delivering maximum value from existing infrastructure, multi-use infrastructure, developing the circular economy and low-carbon construction. This will allow to develop enhanced solutions in civil engineering that are not only fit for purpose but truly resilient, considering not only their economic viability and environmental impacts, but also their systemic properties and durability.

The program aims to deliver graduates that are effective at working in teams, who can talk confidently across disciplines and who can appreciate how their individual research relates to a major civil engineering project and sustainable civil engineering. Currently there are 29 students spread across three cohorts.

Quantitative Non-Destructive Evaluation

Non-destructive Evaluation employs sensor and imaging technology to assess the condition of components, plant and engineering structures of all kinds during manufacture and in-service. This key technology area underpins the safe and sustainable future of a broad cross-section of UK industry including power generation, oil & gas, aerospace, defence and high value manufacturing.

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral training in Quantitative NDE is based on a multi-disciplinary academic consortium including Imperial College and the Universities of Bristol, Manchester, Nottingham, Strathclyde and Warwick. Involvement of mechanical and electrical engineers, computer scientists and physicists enables the cohorts to cover a full range of NDE technologies and to undertake the collaborative projects necessitated by this field.

The CDT builds on the previous Industrial Doctoral training Centre in NDE which has taken around 60 EngD students over the past few years, working with 25 companies. It has close links with the UK Research Centre in NDE providing students with access to a network of more than 250 academic and industrial researchers.

Medical Imaging

The Centre for Doctoral Training in Medical Imaging provides a comprehensive interdisciplinary PhD programme in Medical Imaging, specifically designed to meet the challenges in healthcare and medical imaging.

King's College London and Imperial College London, two world leading research-focused universities, collaborate to create an interdisciplinary training approach specifically designed to provide a unique PhD experience. The Centre builds on strong existing collaborations between King's and Imperial, including substantial joint grant funding, joint publications and current joint supervision. The CDT is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Medical imaging has become an essential tool for clinical diagnosis, treatment and monitoring, playing an important role in the improvement of public health. Nowadays a variety of imaging techniques, including x-ray, CT, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and nuclear medicine, are routinely used in medical practices. However, despite significant advances during the last decades, researches aim to further improve these imaging techniques and to enhance the information and clinical value provided by the images.

With complementary strengths in basic physical sciences, engineering and clinical translation, the Centre has links with key industrial partners and close strategic and geographical links with St Thomas’ Hospital, a top-rated teaching hospital, where the Centre is based. The CDT has a comprehensive capability to train and nurture the next generation of imaging scientists and research and industry leaders.