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Extending the envelop of advanced X-ray imaging for data-rich analysis of composite structures


Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

Monday, August 31, 2020 Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Supervisory team: Ian Sinclair, Mark Spearing, Mark Mavrogordato

Project description

Polymer matrix composites, such as carbon fibre-epoxy, constitute a core light-weighting technology across virtually all transport sectors (aerospace, automotive, marine), providing an important route to improved energy efficiency and sustainability. Optimisation of advanced composite structures is however fundamentally prohibited by current test, simulation and certification approaches. As part of a £6.7M EPSRC Programme Grant we seek to break this impasse by holistically reshaping the traditional building-block approach to design and the associated ’test-pyramid’. Combining world-class expertise from the Universities of Southampton, Bath, Bristol and Exeter, the project will promote a change towards virtual testing, enabling reduction of empiricism, significant mass savings, expansion of the design and performance envelopes, and reduction of design costs and associated development time.

A key element of this will be to develop and validate advanced non-destructive evaluation (NDE) tools for intrinsic meso-scale features in component-scale composite samples (e.g. fibre waviness), both as-designed and deviations from design. The work will furthermore develop a novel high-fidelity paradigm for data-rich testing of composite aero-structures subjected to complex and realistic multiaxial loading.

Collaborating with a team of researchers across the universities, the current PhD will particularly explore and optimise the role of high-resolution X-ray computed tomography (XCT) in meso-scale feature quantification in large composite components. This will require adaptation of conventional XCT scanning methods, specifically the large-scale use of laminography for planar/laterally extended objects, building on many years’ experience within the Southampton µ-VIS lab (www.muvis.org) The project will involve sophisticated experimental (X-ray imaging) and computational aspects (3D image reconstruction). Whilst primarily working with established software packages and toolkits, candidates are expected to demonstrate interest in coding and experience in Python, MATLAB or a similar scientific computing environments. The project is thus suitable for engineering, material science or physics graduates with strong computational skills.

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

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 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition fees for EU/UK students plus for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £15,285 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online, please select the academic session 2020-21 “PhD Eng ^ Env (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Ian Sinclair under the proposed supervisor.

Applications should include:
Two reference letters
Degree Transcripts to date
Apply online: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/courses/how-to-apply/postgraduate-applications.page

For further information please contact:


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