PhD project: Quantifying soil carbon sequestration with gamma spectroscopy

Supervisor: Prof Ruben Saakyan

The aim of the proposed PhD project is to exploit particle physics detector technologies developed by the UCL HEP group to help addressing one of the key challenges of climate change — CO2 sequestration from the atmosphere.
Soil carbon sequestration has a significant potential to mitigate anthropogenic greenhouse gases emissions. Enhanced weathering of silicate rocks can increase the efficiency of CO2 sequestration while potentially delivering benefits to agriculture and making it commercially attractive. This however heavily relies on the reliable assessment of the sequestered CO2 quantities. Current methods are slow, invasive and labour intensive. The PhD project will explore the feasibility of employing a different approach based on neutron induced gamma-spectroscopy (NIGS) that could allow fast and quantitative carbon monitoring through an in situ scanning of large land areas.
The project is co-funded by UCL and the UN-DO company ( whose main mission is to remove large amount of carbon from the atmosphere to address the global warming emergency. The project will carry out a design study of a NIGS apparatus using extensive simulations and test bench measurements. In the latter stage of the project and subject to capital funding availability prototypes will be constructed and field experiments carried out.
The role will require an individual with a demonstrable aptitude for multi-faceted experimental research that includes a mixture of simulations, software and detector development.

For more details please contact r.saakyan at