Project Summary: 

Distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) offer a decentralized electronic ledger management system that continuously tracks an expanding list of records stored securely across a peer-to-peer network. DLTs offer tamper-resistance and record traceability, creating trust in the system as a whole. The benefits DLTs offer attract numerous potential uses, even beyond finance (e.g., governance, real estate, medical records etc).

One of the major challenges inhibiting the wide scale adoption of DLTs is its energy-intensive creation process called Consensus (via mining). A Bitcoin transaction is roughly 5000 times more energy-intensive than a VISA transaction. Industry today is focusing on custom mining equipment, and to date, Application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) based mining solutions lead the performance charts as well as boasting the least electricity (power) consumption compared to CPUs, GPUs or FPGA based mining rig counterparts.

The proposed project aims to investigate various mining primitives from an energy-aware perspective. We aim to` develop, compare and refine, energy-thrifty custom hardware for various mining solutions. Low energy consumption and ultra-high performance are often conflicting requirements for any computationally intensive workload and hence an interdisciplinary effort is required to cope with this engineering challenge.


The objectives of this research are:

  • To conduct a preliminary study of the state of the art in various DLT solutions and evaluate their suitability for various target applications. This will involve benchmarking critical bottle necks in terms of scalability, ease of consensus, bandwidth requirements, security etc.
  • To examine the computationally intensive submodules of DLT solutions and undertake their suitability for acceleration via custom hardware.
  • To explore novel architectures of various prevalent mining schemes that are energy-lean in nature. Explore the possibility of approximation in mining (inherently error tolerant) to achieve energy efficiency since that could significantly and positively affect the potential of mainstream cryptographic approaches.

Academic Requirements:

Students entering the programme will normally be required to have a 2.1 BSc/BEng in Computer Science, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, or a maths based engineering or physical science degree, or equivalent qualification recognised by the University. Students holding an appropriate MEng or MSc (Software conversion) will normally be required to have a 2.1 or commendation (distinction) respectively. Furthermore, additional criteria may be applied. All applicants must have significant mathematical and programming experience.

General Information

This 4 year PhD studentship, potentially funded by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL), commences on 1 October 2019.

Eligibility for both fees and maintenance depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK resident or those EU residents who have lived permanently in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship. Non UK residents who hold EU residency may also apply but if successful may receive fees only.

Applicants should apply electronically through the Queen’s online application portal at:

Further information available at:


Contact Details:

Principal Supervisor(s):  Dr Ayesha Khalid


Telephone: +44 (0)28 9097 1767


In This Section