PhD Studentship: Shaping sound like we do with light (2018)

This PhD studentship includes a tax-free stipend and UK/EU fees waiver.

What you get

£14,777 tax free stipend plus UK/EU fees waiver.

The studentship will include a three year stipend at a standard rate (currently £14,777 per annum) and, in addition, fees at the UK/EU rate. Since the studentship only covers fees at the UK/EU rate, overseas applicants are kindly requested to state in their application how they propose to cover the difference between the UK/EU rate and the overseas fees (for more details visit:

Type of award

Postgraduate Research

PhD project

Light and sound have many similarities, but they are still managed differently: arrays of speakers with complex electronics are still state of the art in ultrasound, but also for creating the illusion of 3D sound in theatres, cinemas and concerts, while a lens is all that is needed for directional light. Holograms for light are as common as one of the new £5 notes in UK, but nothing similar is available for sound, not even in VR. Even the language we use for sound is borrowed from the one we have for light.

This project is a part of a larger research effort to bridge this gap, using acoustic metamaterials (Grants on the Web 2018). These are common materials (3D-printing plastic, paper, wood), but engineered in shapes that modify the sound going through (Memoli, et al. 2017), just like a lens or a colour filter does for light. This means that acoustic metamaterials can be incorporated almost everywhere, with little additional signature, and can be used to control sound to the level of a single seat in an auditorium. They have the potential to revolution the way we think, design and experience sound.

In the next three years, our multi-disciplinary team will be creating metamaterial-based devices to manage sound in different contexts. We will design the materials and assemble in prototypes that will be tested on end users using VR/AR environments, in collaboration with our industrial partners (e.g. producers of videogames/3D video/VR content…but also musicians, architects and noise consultants).

Depending on your skills/interests, you may be instrumental to the design of the final user experiences (Human Computer Interaction/Virtual Reality), take part in the design and testing of the materials (physics/engineering) or in their miniaturisation/actuation (physics/engineering/informatics). As a team, we will be very active in outreach and in the interactions with the industrial partners. We will have a weekly residency, sponsored by Wired Sussex, in a local hub connecting more than 2,500 companies operating in the digital economy.


Creswell, John W. 2014. Research Design. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Grants on the Web. 2018. AURORA: controlling sound like we do with light.

Memoli, G., M. Caleap, M. Asakawa, D.R. Sahoo, B.W. Drinkwater, and S. Subramanian. 2017. "Metamaterial bricks and quantization of meta-surfaces." Nature Communications 14608.

VITAE consortium. 2018. Doing a Doctorate.



Applicants must meet the University's academic entry requirements and English language requirements.



1 October 2018 0:00

How to apply

Apply for an full time Informatics PhD using this step by step guide:

In the ’Finance information’ section of the application form clearly state you are applying for the 'PhD scholarship: Shaping sound like we do with light'.


Contact us

Contact Dr Gianluca Memoli if you wish to discuss the position.


At level(s):
PG (research)

Application deadline:
1 October 2018 0:00 (GMT)
the deadline has now expired


The award is available to people from these specific countries: