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Novel Routes to Hierarchical Nanocomposite Fabrication using Magnetic Fields

Project Description

We have recently developed a process to magnetise graphene materials and have demonstrated that magnetic fields can control their alignment and position in polymers. This has exciting implications for enhancing and tuning the physical properties of nanocomposites. This project will seek to develop nanocomposites with varying internal microstructures and to establish the relationship with final composite properties.

This is an excellent opportunity to work on a multi-disciplinary project within an internationally renowned Engineering School (ranked first for research impact in the most recent UK research assessment (REF 2014)). You will work across the Structural Performance and Magnetics and Materials groups with access to leading expertise and expanding facilities for the design, manufacture and analysis of nanocomposite materials and magnetic devices. You will benefit from interactions and access to equipment through existing collaborations with the Schools of Chemistry and Physics as well as existing industrial collaborators.

Project Outline
Year 1
Objectives: 1) Establish the effect of size, polymer viscosity and field strength on particle alignment and motion (using existing microscope system with integrated electromagnet). 2) Develop finite element tools for predicting magnetic field distribution within multi-coil electromagnetic devices (COMSOL software and existing group knowledge). Outputs: Preliminary device design for multi-coil system, conference paper reporting initial findings.

Year 2
Objectives: 1) Development of multi-coil system for generation of desired nanocomposite microstructures (existing lab facilities and group knowledge). 2) Manufacture nanocomposites with magnetically controlled microstructures (using developed device and established composite manufacturing facilities). 3) Preliminary analysis of microstructures (existing facilities for Microscopy, SEM/TEM, SAX, MicroCT). Outputs: Journal publication detailing development of new materials.

Year 3
Objectives: 1) Continued development and analysis of nanocomposite microstructure. 2) Characterisation of physical properties (existing facilities to measure modulus, strength, fracture, viscoelasticity, electrical and thermal conductivities). Outputs: Journal and conference publication detailing relationship between microstructure and properties.


You should have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK.

Applicants with a Lower Second Class degree will be considered if they also have a master’s degree. Applicants with a minimum Upper Second Class degree and significant relevant non-academic experience are encouraged to apply.

Funding Notes

Full awards, including the Tuition fee and maintenance stipend (Approx. £14,777 in 2018/19), are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the course for which they are seeking funding, including for the purposes of full-time education


Applications should be made online at:

Please note the following when completing your online application:

The Programme name is Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering with an October 2019 start date.

In the "Research proposal and Funding" section of your application, please specify the project title, supervisors of the project and copy the project description in the text box provided.

Please select “No, I am not self-funding my research” when asked whether you are self-funding your research.

Please quote “ME-DTP-2019” when asked "Please provide the name of the funding you are applying for".

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