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Microscale mechanical testing of composites and additively manufactured parts: enhanced understanding and performance from tailored high-resolution experimental characterisation

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, April 30, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The field of micromechanical testing has arisen from recent technological advances in microscopy, piezoelectric actuation and high energy focusing optics. These capabilities have allowed us to probe variations in residual stress, fracture toughness and other mechanical properties at the micro-to-nanoscale for the first time. Observations like these have been fundamental in answering long-held scientific questions, and have revealed a new and exciting frontier of research.

These developments have coincided with an arising need for improved understanding of the micromechanics of two emerging material classes; composite materials and Additively Manufactured (AM) components. The exceptional strength to weight ratio of composites, and optimised design capabilities of AM have revolutionised the performance and efficiency of many classes of industrial components. However, significant challenges remain in producing reliable, mechanically optimised composite and AM parts due to the micro-to-nano length scales over which material interaction plays out. Therefore in order to assess and optimise production processes, in this project a new suite of optimised and tailored micromechanical testing methods will be established for these two material classes.

The Materials and Structures Centre within the University of Bath has a wealth of state-of-the-art equipment, as well an international reputation for research excellence in both composites and AM. As a result, the successful candidate will benefit from well-established links with both industry and other research institutions. The dynamic and cross-disciplinary nature of the group will also ensure that they are able to engage with multiple emergent topics and tailor their research to a particular direction of interest.

Suitable candidates should have an interest in mechanics/microscopy based methods and a preference for experimental characterisation. Some prior modelling or simulation experience would also be beneficial. The successful applicant will receive in depth training on advanced experimental methods such as:

• Synchrotron radiation and neutron source based techniques – including tomography, crystallography and spectroscopy
• Mechanical testing and surface characterisation – such as nanoindentation, atomic force microscopy, micropillar compression and splitting, as well as macroscale methods
• Microscopy and focused ion beam based techniques – including ring-core residual stress analysis, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and electron backscatter diffraction
• Lab-based characterisation – such as X-ray powder diffraction and Raman spectroscopy

These skills will be used to design and implement an experimental testing regime which helps answer fundamental questions will serve as an important reference for future research in this field. The candidate will be encouraged to attend national/international scientific conferences and schools, and to travel internationally for collaborative experimentation. As a result, the applicant will emerge as a highly qualified expert with a balanced scientific skill set and good industrial connections/experience.

The successful applicant will ideally have graduated (or be due to graduate) with an undergraduate Masters first class degree or MSc distinction (or overseas equivalent). English language requirements must be met at the deadline for applications

For informal inquiries contact Dr Alexander Lunt ()

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Expected start date: 30th September 2019

Funding Notes

This project is eligible for inclusion in funding rounds scheduled for March 2019 and April 2019. A full application must have been submitted before inclusion in a funding round.

Funding will cover Home/EU tuition fees, a maintenance stipend (£14,777 pa (2018/19 rate)) and a training support fee of £1,000 per annum for up to 3.5 years. Early application is strongly recommended.

How good is research at University of Bath in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 61.00

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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