Ian David Flintoft

Ian David Flintoft


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Personal profile


I studied a general physics degree as an undergraduate in the Department of Physics at the University of Manchester, graduating in 1988. I then joined Philips Research Laboratories in Redhill, Surrey (now relocated to Cambridge) where I worked for two years as a Research Scientist in the Simulation and Signal Processing Group. At Philips I was involved in design work on the radio-frequency hardware (antennas and filters) for analogue and early digital mobile phones. I then returned to the Department of Physics in Manchester in 1990 to study for a PhD in Theoretical Physics. My thesis was about phenomenological models for the formation a quark-gluon plasma in heavy ion collisions.

I started work at the University of York in  April 1996 as a Research Assistant in the Applied Electromagnetics Group of the Department of Electronics and became a Research Fellow in what is now the Physical Layer Research Group in 2000. Since then I have worked on many externally funded research projects - see the "Research" and "Publications" tabs for details.

My full profile is on LinkedIn.


Research interests

The central theme to my research is electromagnetics, broadly divided into four areas:

  • Computational Electromagnetics (CEM): Modelling electromagnetic fields using a variety of computational techniques including finite-difference time-domain (FDTD), method-of-moments (MoM), transmission line matrix (TLM) and power balance (PWB). I use CEM as a tool to analyse particular application situations and I develop and maintain new features for a range of computational algorithms and codes.
  • Bioelectromagnetics: The interaction of biological systems with electromagnetics fields. My bioelectromagnetics research includes both work on the safety implications of the exposure of people to electromagnetic waves and the use of electromagnetic waves in medical diagnostic applications.
  • Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC): All electronic systems can both radiated unintentional electromagnetic fields and respond adversely to external (intentional or unintentional) fields. EMC is concerned with understanding and controlling these effects so that electronic products can operate harmoniously in close proximity to each other. My research in this area includes aspects of electromagnetic shielding, the immunity of digital circuits and the emissions from distributed wired communications systems.
  • Electromagnetic Metrology: Many research questions require the making of accurate experimental measurements of high frequency electromagnetic fields. I am particularly involved in advancing the use of electromagnetic reverberation chambers and material shielding measurement systems.

Some of my current specific research topics are:

  • Electromagnetic modelling and characterisation of advanced composite materials. Such materials are becoming commonplace in the aeronautical and other industries where knowledge and control of their electromagnetic properties are important both for assessing safety risks due to their relative low electromagnetic shielding compared to metals or can be used for enhanced functional performance, such as selective blocking of certain frequency bands. I am working on a number of projects aimed at the experimental characterisation of such materials up to high frequencies (18 GHz) and the development of broadband electromagnetic models of the materials for use in computer simulations.  Projects: HIRF SE, Electromagnetic properties of nanostructured materials.
  • Intentional electromagnetic interference to critical infrastructures. Electromagnetic waves can potentially be used to disrupt the operation of any electronic system causing either temporary malfunction or permanent damage to the semiconductor devices inside the system. Such an attack on national critical infrastructures, for example power generation and distribution systems, transport networks and IT data-centres, could have very damaging consequences for society. I am currently one of the lead researchers on an EU project developing both general risk modelling and assessment methodologies for such situations and a detection system to identify if an electromagnetic attack has occurred. Projects: STRUCTURES.
  • Absorption of microwaves by the human body: The average absorption of electromagnetic power by the human body can be measured efficiently over a broad frequency range in a reverberation chamber. This allows the degree of electromagnetic exposure of people in diffuse electromagnetic environments (for example aircraft cabins) to be estimated and compared to international safety guidelines. Using this technique the effect of body posture and clothing can be determined very rapidly compared to current computational approaches. The research may also have medical applications that are being investigated since the absorption is related to the composition of the outer layers of the body. Projects: Body Water Measurement, HIRF SE, Reverberation Chamber ACS Measurement.
  • Non-invasive measurement of ageing in electronic systems: As electronic components age their characteristics slowly change until eventually they fail. This research is looking at the feasibility of detecting changes in device performance due to ageing by looking at how the electromagnetic emissions from the circuits change when they are illuminated by an external electromagnetic wave. This approaches offers the possibility of tracking the ageing of electronics circuits, and therefore predicting the failure of equipment before it actually occurs, without expensive invasive measurements. Projects: Non-lnear effects in Reverbetation Chambers, EMSA.