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Optimal Design of Nacre-like materials

Cardiff School of Engineering

About the Project

Natural living materials, such as nacre or seashells, are biological and hierarchical composite materials, They are made of very strong and stiff nano-sized single crystal mineral plates embedded in a very soft and ductile protein matrix material. They have excellent mechanical properties in strength, stiffness and fracture toughness. 

This project aims to optimise the design of the geometrical structures of this type of materials, and to enhance/maximise their strength, stiffness and fracture toughness. The optimal design will be achieved by theoretical analysis/prediction and computational (finite element) simulation using the commercial finite element software ABAQUS or ANSYS, and will be validated by experimental measurements and by the relevant experimental results in literature.

Candidates should hold a good bachelor’s degree (first or upper second-class honours degree) or a MSc degree in a relevant engineering/science subject.

In addition, the candidate should have good mechanics background and be familiar with finite element simulation and software ABAQUS or ANSYS. 

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language (IELTS 6.5 or equivalent)

Contact for further information Dr Hanxing Zhu,


Applicants should submit an application for postgraduate study via the Cardiff University  webpages ( ) including;

·        an upload of your CV

·        a personal statement/covering letter

·        two references (applicants are recommended to have a third academic referee, if the two academic referees are within the same department/school)

·        Current academic transcripts

Applicants should select Doctor of Philosophy (Engineering), with a start date of

PLEASE CHOOSE - 1st April 2021, 1st July 2021 or 1st October 2021 .

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select "I will be applying for a scholarship / grant" and specify that you are applying for advertised funding, reference HZ-SF-2021

The deadline for application is the 30th September 2021  We may however close this opportunity earlier if a suitable candidate is identified.

Funding Notes

Self funded project open to applicants worldwide

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