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Advanced 3D imaging of composite materials and structures

   Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

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  Prof Ian Sinclair  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Supervisory Team:   Ian Sinclair, Thomas Blumensath, Mark Mavrogordato

Project description

Polymer matrix composites are a core light-weighting technology across virtually all transport sectors (aerospace, automotive, marine), providing a vital element of net-zero carbon objectives for the future.

Optimisation of composite structures is however limited by current testing, simulation and certification approaches. As part of a £6.7M Programme Grant (UKRI/EPSRC) we seek to resolve this problem by reshaping the traditional building-block approach to composite material design. Combining world-class expertise from the Universities of Bristol, Bath, Exeter and Southampton, the project will promote a rigorous and practical shift to testing and simulation of composites, enabling numerous benefits in mass savings, reduced empiricism, expansion of the design envelope, and reduction of design costs/time.

Working as part of a large group of PhDs and Doctoral researchers across the 4 universities, this PhD project will focus on validating novel non-destructive evaluation (NDE) tools for component-scale composite samples, and linking the associated results to mechanical performance. The project will particularly explore and optimise the role of high-resolution X-ray computed tomography (XCT) for defect mapping (porosity, fibre waviness etc.) in large composite components. This will require adaptation of conventional XCT scanning methods, specifically the large-scale use of laminography for flat/laterally extended objects, building on many years’ experience within the nationally and internationally recognised Southampton µ-VIS lab ( and 

The project will involve sophisticated experimental work (X-ray imaging) using newly installed state-of-the-art facilities. Whilst primarily working with well-established software packages and toolkits, candidates are expected to have an interest in basic coding, and have some experience in Python, MATLAB or similar scientific computing environments. The project is suitable for engineering, material science or physics graduates.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Prof Ian Sinclair, Engineering Materials Research Group, Email: [Email Address Removed].

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2022 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £16,062 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online. Select programme type (Research), 2022/23, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, next page select “PhD Engineering & Environment (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Ian Sinclair

Applications should include:

Research Proposal

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact: [Email Address Removed]

The School of Engineering is committed to promoting equality, diversity inclusivity as demonstrated by our Athena SWAN award. We welcome all applicants regardless of their gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or age, and will give full consideration to applicants seeking flexible working patterns and those who have taken a career break. The University has a generous maternity policy, onsite childcare facilities, and offers a range of benefits to help ensure employees’ well-being and work-life balance. The University of Southampton is committed to sustainability and has been awarded the Platinum EcoAward.

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Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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