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PhD in Predictive Modelling of Small Crack Formation in Superalloys

Project Description


This PhD position, supported by Rolls-Royce and EPSRC, will innovate the prognosis of fatigue crack nucleation of single crystals under corrosive environments using multiscale constitutive models.

The urgent need for high-efficiency engines to produce greener energy drives the increase in operating temperature of turbine engines. Components that were once considered ‘low risk’ are susceptible to high-temperature corrosion and fatigue damage.

Current life prognosis of components is based on empirical crack incubation and growth data. This approach requires years of data and does not aid in designing new components. Hence, there is a need to advance life predictions with mechanistic understanding. To mitigate prognosis uncertainty, researchers developed models informed with physical mechanisms at many lengths. The value-added relies on the lower dependence of damage mechanisms on loading conditions at smaller scales. Thus, advances in failure prognosis depend on more advanced models that are informed by independent multiscale data.

This PhD studentship will innovate with computational models informed at multiple scales (atomistic, meso and macro-scales) to predict fatigue failure under environmental corrosion. You will devise a crystal plasticity model that will explicitly describe dislocation mechanisms that are responsible for fatigue crack growth. These simulations will estimate the mechanical fatigue driving force and will inform a lifing model based in microstructural fracture mechanics. Furthermore, you will develop a crack nucleation lifing model based on corrosion driving forces that depend on crystallographic diffusion of species. Finally, life prediction will result from the shortest life from both mechanisms.

Cranfield is an exclusively postgraduate university that is a global leader for transformational research and education in technology and management. This program includes a unique interaction with Rolls-Royce, a world leader in manufacturing complex engineering assets. We offer a competitive stipend and the possibility to travel within the UK to meet various collaborators. In addition, the opportunity includes support of a student’s attendance to an international conference to present the results.

Students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment. We are committed to promoting a supportive and diverse work environment by promoting a flexible work style that matches the candidate needs and ample parental benefits.


Sponsored by EPSRC and Rolls-Royce, this studentship will provide a bursary of up to £20,000 (tax free) plus fees* for three years. Candidates should demonstrate they qualify with student eligibility requirements.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline. Prior experience in finite element modelling and/or testing mechanical properties would be beneficial.

How to apply

If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form by clicking on ’Visit Website’.

For further information please contact:

Name: Dr. Gustavo Castelluccio

Funding Notes

To be eligible for this funding, applicants should demonstrate they qualify with EPSRC student eligibility requirements. Candidates who have a strong interest in the research area that fall outside of the eligibility criteria should discuss with the supervisor.

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