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PhD in Engineering: Additive manufacturing-enabled multifunctional cellular composites for biomedical applications

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, September 30, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

The School of Engineering of the University of Glasgow is seeking a highly motivated graduate to undertake an exciting 3.5-year PhD project entitled ‘Additive manufacturing-enabled multifunctional cellular composites for biomedical applications’ within the Systems, Power and Energy Division.
Orthopaedic implants represent one of the largest segments of biomedical devices, with global market value exceeding $45 billion. Nevertheless, structural and/or functional failure of implants poses a significant risk to the patient’s health, and an enormous economic burden on the healthcare system. Emerging advances in additive manufacturing (AM) has the potential to revolutionize Orthopaedics (Orthopaedic implants, trauma and oncology) in delivering quality and efficient healthcare systems. The objective of the project is to design and develop AM-enabled lattice architectures to realize cellular composites with unprecedented properties optimized for location-specific structural and functional requirements for biomedical applications.

High performance biocompatible polymers like polyetheretherketone (PEEK) are increasingly being considered in the orthopaedic community as a promising alternative to metal alloys to address issues of metallic corrosion, bone-implant stiffness mismatch, and radiopacity. Although the modulus of PEEK is much closer to bone than metal alloys, native bone stiffness is highly inhomogeneous and therefore implants (that mimic the bone) with spatially tailored stiffness and/or lattice structure are needed to mitigate stress-shielding. An implant with a lattice structure is lightweight, can be optimized for strength and toughness and has an enhanced surface area, which can aid fusion, bone growth and osseointegration. Furthermore, there is currently a lack of in situ diagnostic methods to measure device performance (once it is implanted in the patient). Addition of electrically conductive micro and/or nano-fillers to PEEK can introduce piezoresistive effect, which can be leveraged for sensing device performance.

To improve long-term patient outcomes, the project aims to: (1) develop improved implant materials, (2) design implants better matched to native physiology (which is inhomogeneous), and (3) develop smart implants to enable detection of early signs of failure. To this end, the proposed project focuses on: (1) AM and design of nanoscale and/or microscale fibre reinforced medical grade PEEK composites, (2) architectural design of the exterior porous surface of the implant required for bone ingrowth, and (3) metamaterial architecture to spatially tune the stiffness of the implant to minimize stress-shielding. Particular focus is on nanocarbons, metallic nanoparticles and microscale short carbon fibres reinforced cellular composites. The key tasks of the project are AM and design of cellular multifunctional composites with spatially tailored metamaterial architecture, nano- and microscale material characterization, multiscale computational modelling and topology optimization and macroscopic experiments to evaluate mechanical (including fatigue) and functional performance. The project utilizes fused filament fabrication (FFF) and selective laser sintering (SLS) AM methods. The successful PhD candidate will have the opportunity to work with the collaborators at the University of Cambridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Boston.
Experience and/or a strong interest in one or more of the following areas are essential:
• Materials science, additive manufacturing and mechanics
• Nano- and microscale characterization and macroscale testing of multifunctional composites
• Modeling of multifunctional composites
• Abaqus FEA, MATLAB, Digimat FE, OptiStruct, COMSOL Multiphysics, Maple/Mathematica and Python.
Desired skills:
• Established track record evidenced by publications in top quality journals
• Excellent verbal and written communication skills
• Positive attitude, flexibility, willingness and desire to work in a multidisciplinary international research environment
• Demonstrated ability to formulate, plan and conduct research with specific objectives and milestones
• Demonstrated ability to work autonomously and in team-oriented research environment
• Strong analytical skills, inter-personnel skills, and innovative thinking

Application for this scholarship is made by using the online system at the following link:
(please select from list)
Please note that this application is to gain admission to our PGR programme, and an offer of admission may be issued before a decision on this Scholarship is made. Candidates applying for this Scholarship will most likely have an interview/discussion with the supervisor before any decision is made.

Funding Notes

The studentship is supported by the EPSRC DTA/SCHOOL/RESEARCH COUNCIL, and it will cover home tuition fees and provide a stipend at the UKRI rate for 3.5 years (est. £15,009 for session 2019/20).

***To be eligible for this funding, applicants must have ‘settled status’ in the United Kingdom and must have been ‘ordinarily resident’ for the past three years. EU nationals are generally eligible to receive a fees-only award.***
It should be noted that other terms may also apply. For full details about eligibility please visit:
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