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An investigation of the Fibre-Matrix Interface of Laser Processed Composite Materials


   Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

  Dr Ross Minty, Dr L Yang  Friday, August 19, 2022  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The aim of this project, co-founded by CAV Systems, a significant UK aerospace manufacturer, is to understand and quantify the impact that laser processing has on the material, environmental and fatigue properties of a fibre-reinforced polymer composite, particularly at the fibre-matrix interface level, through extensive experimental investigation.

Fibre-reinforced composite materials are used in a wide variety of high-performance applications, with significant continued growth forecasted in the automotive, aerospace, space, and renewable energy sectors due to their contribution towards achieving net-zero. Composites are comprised of typically inorganic reinforcement fibres, such as carbon or glass fibres, which are embedded within a polymer matrix. Between the fibre and the matrix exists an interface, which plays a fundamental role in determining the capability of the composite material in terms of material properties and performance under harsh environmental conditions. It is the interface which is attacked and weakened under these conditions; it is failure at the interface which leads to eventual delamination and ultimate failure of the component.

Laser processing is a relatively new, exciting, and cost-effective method for accurately preparing components manufactured using composite materials. Laser cutting and laser drilling are attractive methodologies for global manufacturers due to the inherent benefits that can be exploited. However, there has been no investigation into how the laser processing of a composite material affects the fibre-matrix interface of the material locally, or the extent to which this influences the overall mechanical properties of the bulk material. Furthermore, there has been no investigation into the ‘thru-life’ environmental and fatigue properties of a laser processed composite material. Understanding these fundamental characteristics is central to future use of laser processing of composite materials. The current project intends to address this gap in the knowledge.

The aim of this project, is to understand and quantify the impact that laser processing has on the material, environmental and fatigue properties of a fibre-reinforced polymer composite, particularly at the fibre-matrix interface level, through extensive experimental investigation. The aim of the project will be achieved through the following objectives:

i. Determination of macroscopic properties (e.g. mechanical strength, elastic modulus) of selected laser processed composite materials in the laboratory.

ii. Undertaking a fatigue study to quantify the impact of laser processing on the macroscope properties of selected composites materials under working conditions in the laboratory.

iii. Determination of microscopic interfacial properties of selected laser processed composite materials in the laboratory.

iv. Undertaking a rain erosion study to quantify the impact of laser processing on environmental resistance properties of selected composite materials in the laboratory.

The student will be part of the Advanced Composites Group and join a vibrant community of PhD students, post-doctoral associates and academics working in various aspects of composite material characterisation, design, processing and testing. In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.

Proposed Start Date: 1 October 2022

FUNDING:

The project is jointly funded by the University of Strathclyde, and CAV Systems, and will cover Home tuition fees only, and includes a monthly stipend for 3 years (For 2022/23 the total stipend annual is £16062, and subject to increase each academic year).

EU/International applicants are welcome to apply but must be able to provide evidence that they can cover the difference between Home and International fees for the full year period of study. Further information on Tuition fees is available at: https://www.strath.ac.uk/studywithus/feesfunding/tuitionfees/

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