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PhD studentship in Ferritic Superalloys for Gas Turbines & Nuclear Reactors

School of Metallurgy & Materials

About the Project

A funded 3-year UK 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 tax free stipend of £15,285 per year.

This project will link to industrial partners including Rolls-Royce & Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.

The research group investigates new alloys [1,2] for extreme environments in aerospace gas turbines as well as nuclear fusion/fission reactors and and concentrated solar power. This involves the design of new alloys supported by computational methods; production through arc melting, powder metallurgy or additive manufacturing; characterisation using advanced electron microscopy and x-ray diffraction; mechanical testing using macro/micro-mechanical methods and failure investigation.

New advanced high temperature steel are sought for gas turbine engines, nuclear reactors and concentrated solar power plants. In these applications increases in temperature are sought to improve fuel efficiency [3], alongside long service life, and to do so at acceptable cost. High temperature steels typically employ an austenitic fcc matrix strengthened by precipitates, but become limited by creep above ~550°C. Recently developed steels following a "bcc-superalloy” design strategy, comprising a ferritic matrix with B2 and/or L21 Heusler of Ni2AlTi, NiAl or Fe2SiTi intermetallic precipitates, have been shown to have significant promise [4,5]. 

The PhD will investigate such steels seeking further understanding on the control of microstructure and how this influences high temperature mechanical properties. Further, it will also investigate the irradiation damage performance of these alloys. Alloys will be produced, characterised and tested for balance of mechanical and environmental properties achieved, with an emphasis on advanced electron microscopy methods (e.g. SEM, FIB, TEM/STEM), in-situ micromechanical deformation, oxidation/corrosion and irradiation performance.

The candidate should have a 1st class Undergraduate or Masters degree (or equivalent) in Materials Science, or related discipline. A background in microstructural characterisation and/or mechanical testing would be advantageous.

To Apply please provide: (1) A curriculum vitae (CV), (2) A Cover Letter summarising your research interests and suitability for the position, and (3) The contact details of two Referees. 

Please send directly to Dr Sandy Knowles -

Funding Notes

Funded 3-year UK PhD studentship, tax free stipend of £15,285 per year.



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