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Studies on dynamic behaviours of smart materials for sensing and actuator applications (Advert Reference: RDF19/EE/MCE/CHEN)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 25, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Smart materials are materials exhibiting multi-physics coupling behaviours. So they can be actuated by various physical fields, such as stress field, thermal field, electric field and magnetic field. Magnetic shape memory alloys appear as a new kind of smart materials exhibiting thermo-magneto-mechanical couplings. They can undergo large strain change (6% − 10%) due to the martensite reorientation or phase transformation induced by magnetic field, mechanical stress or temperature change. Compared with the traditional shape memory alloys, magnetic shape memory alloys have the advantage of high-frequency response, which makes them promising candidates for sensors and actuators in the future.

The primary goal of this project is to study the dynamic behaviours of magnetic shape memory alloys, understand the multi-physics (thermo-magneto-mechanical) coupling in the material, unveil the relationship between the macroscopic behaviours and the microstructure evolutions (e.g. magnetic domains, twin microstructures), and explore their potential applications in future robotic systems.

The work packages will include material characterisation, dynamic tests under multi-physics loadings, simulations and product design engineering. The project is expected to involve multi-disciplinary collaboration within Northumbria University in UK, as well as external partners in Europe and Asia.

Who this PhD would suit

This PhD project is well suited to motivated and hard-working applicants with a keen interest in smart materials and their applications. The suitable background of the applicants is: Mechanical Engineering or Material Science or Applied Physics.
The principal supervisor for this project is Xue Chen.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF19/EE/MCE/CHEN) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 25 January 2019
Start Date: 1 October 2019

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Students Worldwide, and covers full fees and a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2018/19, this is £14,777 pa).


Zhang, S., Chen, X., Moumni, Z., He, Y., 2018a. Thermal effects on high-frequency magnetic-field-induced martensite reorientation in ferromagnetic shape memory alloys: an experimental and theoretical investigation. International Journal of Plasticity 108, 1−20.
(Top 5% journal (rank as 4 out of 134) in MECHANICS)

Zhang, S., Chen, X., Moumni, Z., He, Y., 2018b. Coexistence and compatibility of martensite reorientation and phase transformation in high-frequency magnetic-field-induced deformation of Ni-Mn-Ga single crystal. International Journal of Plasticity 110, 110−122.
(Top 5% journal (rank as 4 out of 134) in MECHANICS)

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