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Graphene- and CNTs-based Composite Structures for Mechanical Actuation

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, June 30, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

An actuator is a mechanical device for moving or controlling a mechanism or system, which is operated by responding an appropriate external stimulus. Under a controllable external stimulus (e.g. electrical, thermal or optical), the actuator materials in the device undergo a reversible change in shape, volume, modulus, or some other mechanical property, which corresponds to the conversion of the energy brought by the applied external stimulus to mechanical energy. Actuator materials must be thus capable of successfully performing such energy transformations reversibly and with high enough efficiency.

Compared with the traditionally employed actuator materials, such as piezoelectric, ferroelectric and conducting polymer materials which suffered from low flexibility, high driving voltages and low energy efficiency, graphene and carbon nanotubes (CNTs) exhibit outstanding mechanical, electrical, optical properties and chemical stability. Furthermore, graphene- and CNTs-based structures have been recently demonstrated to show excellent actuation performances, which makes them excellent candidates for the fabrication of efficient actuation devices, with great potential for a wide variety of applications, including medical devices, switches, micro-robotics, artificial muscles, shape memory devices and other smart structures.

The scope of this PhD project will be to investigate the potential of composite structures based on graphene and CNTs, such as fibres and free-standing papers, as actuation devices. The electrical, mechanical and thermal properties of the prepared nanostructures will be characterized and evaluated in detail and related to their actuation performances. Understanding the actuation mechanism will be relevant to maximize the performance, efficiency and potential of these nanostructured devices based on carbon nanomaterials for the next generation of actuators.

The PhD student will join the ’Advanced Nanomaterials Group’. This project will have access to the fabrication and characterisation facilities available within the Department of Materials, National Graphene Institute (NGI) and the Henry Royce Institute.
The student will require experience in experimental nanocomposite research and a background 2D materials is preferred, but not essential. Applicants should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours degree in Materials Science, Physics, Chemistry or a related subject.

Funding Notes

Applicants should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours degree in Physics, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering or Materials Science.

This project is being considered for DTA funding. This would provide a full fee waiver and a EPSRC standard stipend. International applicants are welcome to apply but will require access to self-funding.

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.00

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

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