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PhD in Bcc Titanium Superalloys for Aerospace Gas Turbines

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

A funded 3-year UK/EU PhD studentship is available in the group of Dr Sandy Knowles within the School of Metallurgy and Materials at the University of Birmingham, with a stipend of at least £14,777 per year (industrial top up of ~£2000 expected).

Dr Knowles’ research group seeks game-changing new materials for the extreme environments of aerospace gas turbines as well as nuclear fusion/fission reactors. This involves the design of new alloys; production through arc melting, powder metallurgy or additive manufacturing/3D printing; characterisation using electron microscopy and x-ray diffraction; mechanical testing using macro/micro-mechanical methods and failure investigation.

The fuel efficiency of aerospace gas turbines is strongly linked to their operating temperature. However, increasing the operating temperature puts increased demand on the materials employed, namely nickel-based superalloys, potentially leading to catastrophic failure if not done carefully. Over 50 years of development nickel-based superalloys have become highly sophisticated, but further improvements are increasing hard to realise and are approaching a ceiling [1].

One possibility for increased high temperature capability is to change the base element to one with a higher melting point than Ni (Tm=1455°C), for example Mo (Tm=2623°C) or Nb (Tm=2469°C). However, this results in a change in the matrix crystal structure from γ face-centred-cubic (fcc) to β body-centred-cubic (bcc) necessitating a change from the γ’ Ni3Al precipitates used for Ni. A larger number of ordered-bcc β’ intermetallics exist but only few are compatible with Mo or Nb, which typically include rare or expensive element such as Pt or Ru [2], or rely on a matrix of Cr (Tm=1907°C) [3] or Fe (Tm=1538°C) [4]. Recent work has demonstrated for β Ti (Tm=1668°C) alloys that β’ TiFe can be used as a reinforcing precipitate and that this has compatibility with β Mo and Nb [5].

However, the capability of newly demonstrated β titanium ‘bcc superalloys’ using β’ TiFe remains unknown, with further work needed for them to become a commercialised competitor to low density TiAl, over which they offer improved fracture toughness. The project will produce a beta Ti design toolkit, for strength, phase stability, omega stability and slip planarity, all at reduced cost, with applicability to current titanium alloys, including commercial high strength alpha beta alloys, (e.g. Ti-6246). This project would produce new ‘Titanium Superalloys’, characterise their microstructures as well as evaluating their mechanical properties and underlying mechanisms.

The candidate will have a 1st/2:1 class Undergraduate/ Masters degree in Materials Science, or a related discipline. A background in characterisation and/or mechanical testing would be advantageous.
Applications open Dec 2019, please provide:
(1) A cover letter summarising your research interests and suitability for the position,
(2) The contact details of two people able to provide a reference letter,
(3) A curriculum vitae (CV).
Please send your full application to Dr Sandy Knowles a.j.knowles[at]

Funding Notes

A funded 3-year UK/EU PhD studentship is available with a stipend of at least £14,777 per year (industrial top up of ~£2000 expected). The candidate will have a 1st/2:1 class Undergraduate/ Masters degree in Materials Science, or a related discipline.


1. CBO9780511541285

Related Subjects

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 29.10

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

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