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Manufacturing using Digital Reconfigurable Architectures

Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering

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Dr Simon Pope Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Would you like to work on an exciting project that has the potential to revolutionise the way we manufacture existing and next generation
devices, using an approach that has reconfigurability and sustainability at its core?

The majority of products manufactured today have a form fixed at manufacture. This makes them inherently inflexible to changes in user/environment demand and difficult to recycle at the end of their useful life. In contrast, most engineers know the benefits of digital reconfigurable architectures from childhood (e.g. LEGO ® studded bricks). They allow a product to be manufactured from a finite set of
building blocks and then readily modified or de-constructed using an “inverse” process without generating unnecessary waste.

This PhD project will contribute towards developing a manufacturing process which uses non-contact techniques to repeatedly organise, assemble and disassemble building blocks to produce a material/device that can be considered as more than a sum of its parts. In other words, a Star Trek style replicator assembling discrete LEGO-like blocks of material. It will lead to a future transformation in the manufacture of structural and adaptable devices, such as metamaterials.

The project requires an applicant with knowledge of the properties and dynamics of materials, such as mechanical, thermal and electromagnetic. In addition, applicants are expected to have experience of at least one of the following:
• Control systems design and application
• Acoustic or magnetic positional control of objects
• Modelling and analysis of material properties (such as mechanical, electromagnetic and thermal)
• Fabrication of devices using processes such as (but not limited to): Laser cutting, Photolithography, Thin film deposition, MEMS fabrication, Selective etching, Electrodeposition and 3D printing
• Design of multi-functional devices
• Chemical fabrication of micrometre-millimetre scale objects

Funding Notes

We require applicants to have either an undergraduate honours degree (2:1) or MSc (Merit or Distinction) in a relevant science or engineering subject from a reputable institution.

Full details of how to apply can be found at the following link:

Applicants can apply for a Scholarship from the University of Sheffield but should note that competition for these Scholarships is highly competitive:

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