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  Development of high-power-density non-rare-earth magnet machine for modern propulsion system

   Department of Mechanical Engineering

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  Dr Shun Cai  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Lead supervisors: Dr Shun Cai

Eligibility: Open to UK students and EU students with settled or pre-settled status in the UK

Fully Funded: 3.5 years of Home tuition fees (currently £5,860/year) and a tax-free maintenance stipend (currently £20,622/year)

The rapid development of electrified transportation has embraced opportunities for permanent magnet synchronous machine with the equipment of high-energy-product rare-earth magnet. However, the heavy-rare-earth material consumed in the permanent magnet machine suffers from limited global storage and unstable cost.

This project will primarily focus on the development of high-power-density non-rare-earth magnet machine for modern propulsion system. The design framework will be performed at a system level with electrical machine mathematical modelling, advanced magnetic material characterization, field-circuit coupled numerical simulation, and prototype experimental measurement. The output of this project would lead to a viable route of sustainable electrical machine development for next-generation vehicular propulsion system.

Activities in the project will include:

  1. Develop novel rare-earth-free electrical machine for modern propulsion system.
  2. Characterize and utilize advanced magnetic material for electrical machine system.
  3. Establish mathematic model and optimize electrical machine system.
  4. Collaborate with industrial partner and update design scheme based on project requirements.
  5. Organize design report, draft high-quality publication and patent based on achievements.
  6. Fabricate prototype and conduct experiment with measurements towards propulsion system.

Person specification

  • Applicants should have (or expected to be awarded) a Master's degree in a relevant Engineering or Science subject, with project-related experience.
  • Applicants should have research experience with advanced electrical machines and systems.
  • Excellent performance in professional courses is desirable.
  • Applicants should have a passion for academic research, with the ability to think independently and work collaboratively.
  • Excellent organisational, interpersonal and communication skills, along with a stated interest in interdisciplinary research, are essential.


Due to funding restrictions the studentship is only open to candidates who qualify for Home tuition fees: candidates from the UK or from the EU with settled or pre-settled status in the UK. Please refer to our website for further information about Home tuition fee eligibility.

Applicants whose first language is not English are required to meet UCL's English language entry requirements.

Please refer to this webpage for full eligibility criteria: Mechanical Engineering MPhil/PhD

About the Lead Supervisor

Dr Shun Cai currently serves as a Lecturer/Assistant Professor with the UCL Department of Mechanical Engineering. He received his B.Eng. and M.Eng. from Zhejiang University, China, and his Ph.D. from the University of Sheffield, all towards design of advanced electrical machines. Prior to joining UCL, he has worked as a Research Fellow at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and Senior Engineer at Dyson Technology Institute, U.K. 

Dr Cai’s research targets at solving the frontier issues in the high-performance electrical machine and drive system, advanced propulsion system, and high-precision actuator system. In these areas, he has published over 60 technical articles, with one prize journal paper from prestigious IEEE Transactions and two prize conference papers from IEEE leading conferences.

How to apply

Eligible applicants should first contact Dr Shun Cai ([Email Address Removed]). Please enclose the following documents:

  • A two-page statement outlining your personal experience, academic achievements, and suitability for the project.
  • CV (including contact details of three referees).
  • Transcript of undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

After discussing the project with Dr Cai, eligible applicants should also submit a formal PhD application via the UCL website.

The supervisory team will arrange interviews for short-listed candidates.

Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

Project start date: 01 October 2024
Project duration: 4 years
Studentship funding: Home tuition fees (currently £5,860/year) and maintenance stipend (currently £20,622/year)
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