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Designing step changes in alloy ductility via novel fabrication routes

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, March 31, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

A fully funded 3-year PhD studentship (UK/EU only) is offered in the School of Metallurgy & Materials, University of Birmingham under the supervision of Dr David Collins.

The research group focuses on manufacturing and processing methods related to advanced metal forming technologies that have application in aerospace and automotive sectors. This includes deformation mechanics & microstructure/phase evolution, that are investigated using state-of-the art in-situ synchrotron X-ray and neutron diffraction experimental methods. Along with electron microscopy characterisation and modelling methods, the research group targets understanding at the crystal level to interpret, manipulate and exploit the material behaviour to improve performance at the component level.

Many metal processing methods are well established for the manufacture of components used widely in automotive and aerospace applications, however, the methods themselves are far from optimal. Innovations in such processing methods have huge potential to enable the manufacture of components that simply cannot be fabricated using existing methods. This PhD project will focus on sheet forming operations with the aim to significantly increase the ductility of the material through so-called non-proportional strain-paths.

For sheet forming, ductility is a critical property when a component is fabricated that ultimately determines geometric complexity. During non-proportional forming, a sheet is subjected to an intermediate deformation step, termed a pre-strain, before the material undergoes final straining. When specific strain-paths are use, significant gains in ductility are possible. Whilst this effect has been known since the 1950s, experimental studies to date have failed to identify why alloys can display such behaviour. This project will explore the underlying mechanisms that govern this intriguing effect.

This research project will include evaluation of the deformation for different strain-paths on automotive-grade steels. It is envisaged that various characterisation methods will be used to quantify the plastic strain accumulation, investigating its sensitivity to strain-path, texture and microstructure, as shown in Figure 1. Electron microscopy techniques at University of Birmingham and in-situ X-ray diffraction experiments at synchrotron sources (using methods previously developed [1,2]) will be employed. The scope for this project is wide and can be tailored to the applicant’s expertise/interests, including modelling activities if desired. For additional queries about this project, please contact Dr Collins via email ().

Funding Notes

Funding is available to UK or EU students only. The successful applicant must hold a first degree (minimum upper second class) in Materials Science, Physics, Mechanical Engineering or related discipline. Experience in electron microscopy and/or diffraction techniques will be advantageous. Applications should be made via the University of Birmingham online application system [3], including a full CV, a covering letter that describes your experience and suitability for the PhD, and the names of two people who can provide a letter of reference.

[3] View Website


[1] Collins, D.M., Erinosho, T., Dunne, F.P.E., Todd, R.I., Connolley, T., Mostafavi, M., Kupfer, H., Wilkinson, AJ., A synchrotron X-ray diffraction study of non-proportional strain-path effects, Acta Materialia 124 (2017) 290-304.
[2] Collins, D.M. Mostafavi, M., Todd, R.I., Connolley, T., Wilkinson, A.J., A synchrotron X-ray diffraction study of in situ biaxial deformation, Acta Materialia 90 (2015) 46-58 2015.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials?
Metallurgy and Materials

FTE Category A staff submitted: 29.10

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

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