PhD position in Polymer Optical Fiber Bragg Gratings for High Sensitivity Distributed Biochemical Sensors

DTU Fotonik
Friday 24 Feb 17

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Description of PhD project
In many industries there is a growing demand for non-intrusive and distributed chemical sensors. Polymer Optical Fibers (POFs) offer some key-properties which address this demand, their dimensions are small and the optical detection solves many compatibility issues. Perhaps the most well-known property is the considerably reduced stiffness of the plastic compared to the glass fiber, which makes it possible to sense a much wider range of strains. It is less well-known that POFs are also much easier to chemically surface/bulk modify and thus integrate with sensing chemistry. Polymers are however complex materials and the properties of a sensor in this material are dependent on all stages of the sensor fabrication process, from initial preform production, through fiber drawing to sensing element fabrication. Recent POF advancements make it possible to produce cheap, reliable, miniaturized and distributed sensor systems ready for industrial implementation. Fiber-Optical Bio/chemical Sensors (FOBS) are promising alternatives to traditional measurement methods due to their efficiency, accuracy and convenience. The employed transduction mechanisms in FOBS are usually changes in refractive index, absorption, fluorescence and surface plasmon resonance.   

The aim of this project between DTU Fotonik, PISCO and AquaCircle is to develop highly specialized distributed oxygen and cortisol stress hormone POF sensors to optimize aquaculture fish production. Monitoring of oxygen/cortisol concentration and temperature in aquaculture is important in order to achieve fish Feed Conversion Rates (FCRs) as low as possible. With a single POF it will be possible to measure online at long distance the oxygen/cortisol and temperature levels at several locations simultaneously and thus adjust conditions to be optimal everywhere in the aquaculture system.   

The PhD student will work in a project entitled “Biochemical polymer optical fiber sensors for fish farms” and be funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark and DTU Fotonik.   

The candidate will design and make POF based optical oxygen and cortisol sensors for test in fish farms. The aim of the PhD project is to optimize the sensors with respect to parameters such as optical coupling between POF and sensor chemistry, efficient and fast sensor equilibration with oxygen/cortisol in the surrounding water, response time, structural strength of the sensor and manufacturability. For this, focus of the work will be on the use of Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBGs) written into the POF. For measuring the physical parameters temperature, strain and humidity it is common to observe related shifts in FBG reflection wavelength. Here, focus will be on the use of FBGs for:    

  • Enhancing sensor chemistry excitation and fluorescence pick-up.
  • Multi-point detection (multiplexing). This includes wavelength selective transmission, i.e. filtering of excitation and emitted fluorescence light.
  • Local temperature compensation.

The candidate will work closely with SHUTE Sensing Solutions and PISCO on developing application specific FBG interrogators for this.   

The candidate should preferably have a master's degree in applied physics, applied mathematics, photonics engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree. A solid background in optics and photonics is an asset, applied mathematics is important, knowledge of fiber optics and nonlinear fiber optics is an advantage. We expect the candidate to have interest in supervision of students and assisting with teaching activities. Good communication skills in written and spoken English is a must.    

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarships for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes of DTU. For information about the general requirements for enrolment and the general planning of the scholarship studies, please see the DTU PhD Guide.    

The assessment of the applicants will be made by Professor Ole Bang.

We offer
We offer an interesting and challenging job in an international environment focusing on education, research, public-sector consultancy and innovation, which contributes to enhancing the economy and improving social welfare. We strive for academic excellence, collegial respect and freedom tempered by responsibility. The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is a leading technical university in northern Europe and benchmarks with the best universities in the world.   

Salary and appointment terms
The salary and appointment terms are consistent with the current rules for PhD degree students. The period of employment is 3 years.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Professor Ole Bang, (Group Leader of Fiber Sensors and Supercontinuum), email: or Postdoc Jakob Janting (Fiber Sensors and Supercontinuum), email:

You can read more about the Department of Photonics Engineering on

Please submit your online application no later than 31 March 2017. Applications must be submitted as one pdf file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online," fill in the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one pdf file. The file must include: 

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and excel spreadsheet here)

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree, but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.   

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 5,800 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society; and our 10,600 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government, and public agencies.