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PhD Studentship in High-strain Rate Tensile Testing of Soft and Energetic Materials

   Department of Mechanical Engineering

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  Dr P Hooper  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a research studentship in the field of high strain-rate materials characterisation, leading to the award of a PhD degree.

This PhD project aims to develop innovative experimental methods to measure the stress-strain response of soft materials at high strain-rates. Although the testing of metallic samples under these conditions is fairly mature, measuring the properties of softer materials (such as organic materials and polymer bonded explosives) is much more challenging. Dynamic loading of soft materials is challenging due mismatch in stiffness between the samples and loading fixture. Even holding the sample in place can be difficult due to their low stiffness and tendency to deform under their own weight. These difficulties can give rise to large uncertainties in measurements of mechanical properties in soft materials, especially in non-compressive loading. In this PhD you will advance the state-of-the-art to overcome these limitations through the development of novel dynamic testing equipment at strain-rates of 1,000/s (faster than a car crash) and above. The approach taken will be a miniaturised Split Hopkinson Pressure Bar (SHPB) design that will enable testing of soft materials that are difficult to prepare into test specimens and introducing a high level of automation into the test procedure to reduce or eliminate operator variability. You will learn to use high-speed photography (think The Slow Mo Guys) to measure sample deformation and investigate the effects connection arrangement between the loading bars and sample. You will also have the opportunity to develop finite element models to further our understanding of testing these materials at high-strain rates and to travel and present your work at international conferences.

You will be an enthusiastic and self-motivated person who meets the academic requirements for enrolment for the PhD degree at Imperial College London. You will have a 1st class or 2.1 honours degree in mechanical engineering or a related subject, and an enquiring and rigorous approach to research together with a strong intellect and disciplined work habits. Practical engineering and problem-solving abilities are key skills for this PhD project. Good team-working, observational and communication skills are essential.

To find out more about research at Imperial College London in this area, go to:


For information on how to apply, go to:


For further details of the post contact Dr Paul Hooper . Interested applicants should send an up-to-date curriculum vitae to Dr Paul Hooper. Suitable candidates will be required to complete an electronic application form for their qualifications to be addressed by College Registry. 

Closing date: 30th September 2021

Funding Notes

The post is supported by a bursary and fees (at the UK student rate) provided by AWE plc.
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