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Compositional analysis of the ageing precipitates in HSA6 alloys via Atom Probe Tomography

   Brunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology (BCAST)

   Friday, March 31, 2023  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Applications are invited for an EPSRC iCASE funded PhD studentship at BCAST for the project: Investigation of deformation modes in the development of manufacturing-induced property enhanced AA6xxx series Aluminium Alloys, starting 1 October 2023. Successful applicants will receive an elevated annual stipend (bursary) of approximately £23.000 to start, plus payment of full-time Home/EU tuition fees for a period of 48-months (4 years).


Applicants will have or be expected to receive a minimum 2:1 or 1st class degree in Materials Engineering, or a related discipline. A Masters qualification is an advantage but not essential. 

 Project Details

 High strength and high crush resistant AA6xxx AlMgSiCu aluminium alloys are presently the preferred choice for application in lightweight automotive structures particularly for battery electric vehicles (BEVs). There is intense material choice competition for such applications from other aluminium alloy systems, advanced high strength steels, and polymer-based composites. This means that there is a strong research incentive to improve the mechanical performance of wrought AA6xxx automotive alloys in response to this competition and to formulate these alloys from end-of-life recycled aluminium to reduce embedded carbon level to below 2 tonnes CO2e/tonne of aluminium as a supplied component and eventually to Net Zero carbon. Improving mechanical performance and increasing use of AA6xxx alloys which have a high recycled aluminium content supports the move to a more sustainable aluminium industry based on Circular Economy principles.

 The mechanical performance of the high strength AA6xxx alloys depends on a complex interaction between precipitate morphology and composition, the dislocation substructure and vacancies and solid solution levels of both deliberately added solutes and impurities from the use of recycled aluminium for alloy formulation. The precipitation processes are directly influenced by both pre-aging treatments compared to natural ageing and the dislocation density promoted by deliberate straining as part of the thermomechanical strengthening process.

 There is a lack of understanding of how composition and processing affect the number density and composition of the complex mixture of metastable phases that form in these alloys. Therefore, the main objective of this PhD project is to use Atom Prove Tomography (APT) to characterise the distribution and composition of precipitates formed in these alloys and correlating this with their measured mechanical performance. The research will involve using the recently acquired LEAPTM 5000 complemented by other advanced characterization facilities, including high resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), used comparatively and correlatively alongside APT to enhance the information extracted.

 BCAST is a specialist research centre focusing on light metal research with an international reputation that hosts the national centre of excellence in liquid metal engineering (the EPSRC Future LiME Hub) and the UKRI Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Metals. BCAST is well equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for solidification science, metal processing and materials characterisation and covers fundamental research, technological development and industrial applications in the field of solidification and processing of light metals. For more information see http://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Centres/BCAST. The proposed research will use facilities for metal processing as well as the characterization facilities in the newly established Future Metallurgy Centre. The research conducted as part of this PhD programme will contribute to the activities of the Constellium University Technology Centre (UTC) established with BCAST and form part of their strategic alliance.

 Applicants should submit the documents below to be considered for the research project on “Compositional analysis of the ageing precipitates in HSA6 alloys via Atom Probe Tomography”. Informal enquires may be addressed to Prof. Geoff Scamans via email to  

 How to Apply

 Please e-mail your application comprising of all the documents listed below in ONE PDF file to:

  by Noon on 31 March 2023:

·        Your up-to-date CV;

·        A one A4 page personal statement setting out why you are a suitable candidate (i.e.: your skills and experience);

·        A copy of your degree certificate(s) and transcript (s);

·        Names and contact details for two academic referees;

·        Evidence of English language capability to IELTS 6.5 (minimum 6.0 in all sections), if applicable

Interviews will take place during April/2023.  

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