Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Professor John Fielke

Main Campus
Mawson Lakes

Applications Close
20 Jun 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:

All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
No stipend available

About this Project

Harness microwaves to measure moisture content 

Seeking to make a difference in the field of microwave engineering and interested in advancing new applications for this technology? The University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a practical project-based PhD within UniSA STEM.

Our project will show how a software-defined radio (SDR) can be used to measure the change in amplitude and phase in response to varying the moisture contents of grains, nuts and ores.  

Using a SDR measure has many advantages over the current hardware-based design. For example, it can take an absolute measurement of signal strength at lower orders of magnitude (dBm), using multiple frequencies and using different waveforms other than a cosine wave.

Several companies have launched microwave-based moisture content meters recently but are struggling because there is no robust way of calibrating the meters. 

The key challenge is to find robust calibrations and develop a suitable multi-frequency antenna for the meter. For foods, the resulting meter will improve processability and interventions for preserving foods. For ores, knowledge of their moisture content will result in fair payments and better process control.

You will be based within UniSA STEM. This Unit boasts renowned researchers who are thought leaders in their fields. We produce cutting-edge research and outputs that make real and long-lasting impacts on society. You will benefit from world-class facilities and equipment and enjoy the support, leadership and mentorship of a cohort of expert peers that will help you thrive in your chosen field. 

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will develop skills in problem definition and solution, and microwave engineering and designing experiments. You will also learn about designing and manufacturing antennas and measuring near field antenna performance and undertake SDR coding and digital signal analysis. 

These skills could be used in commercialising a microwave moisture meter or extended into developing and testing another electronic product.

It will be possible to undertake an industry placement, giving you valuable, hands-on work experience. There is also a chance that the project could lead to employment with a current manufacturer of microwave moisture meters.

Where you’ll be based

You will be based in UniSA STEM. We link engineering, mathematics, science, defence, cybersecurity, construction management, environmental science, aviation, information management, information technology, and project management, harnessing the connections across disciplines to bring big ideas to fruition. 

Our researchers deliver technical expertise and advice to industry, government and community groups to make commercially viable and sustainable impacts. The Future Industries Institute, Innovation and Collaboration Centre and Australian Research Centre for Interactive and Virtual Environments all provide consultancy and access to advanced technology. 

We integrate research into our teaching, with students working alongside researchers in first-class facilities. What’s discovered one day is taught the next.  

In an information-rich world, our people think big, combatting problems, testing solutions and making data-driven decisions. Our graduates are entrepreneurs and trailblazers, who design and build the world they want to live in.

Supervisory team

Financial Support 

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. A fee offset for the standard term of the program is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders.  Additionally, any Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicant who holds an offer of admission without a living allowance will be eligible for the Aboriginal Enterprise Research Scholarship. This scholarship is to the value of $46,653 per annum (2023 rates). Any Aboriginal Enterprise Research Scholarship recipient will also receive a fee waiver. Where an international applicant holds an external scholarship or sponsorship a full or partial fee waiver may apply in some circumstances for exceptional applicants.  Other international applicants will be required to pay full tuition fees of approximately AUS$39,700 per annum (2023 rates). 

Eligibility and Selection 

This project is open to application from both domestic and international applicants.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. Additionally applicants must meet the projects selection criteria:  
  • Degree in Electronic Engineering or similar
  • Strong interest in digital signal processing
  • Proven ability in coding

Applicant who can also demonstrate the following will be highly regarded: 
  • Interest or background in agriculture
  • Interest in design and manufacture of antennas
  • Experience with software defined radios

All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our Mawson Lakes campus in the north of Adelaide. 

Essential Dates

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer.  Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Tuesday, 20 June, 2023.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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