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University of Bath URSA project: Elastomeric cellular armour for protection against blast and impact

   Department of Mechanical Engineering

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  Dr Chanel Fallon, Dr Fulvio Pinto  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the University of Bath URSA competition.


Novel lightweight protective armour solutions are an exciting prospect for applications in sports helmets, body armour, damage tolerant aerospace composites and protective cladding for concrete infrastructure. One such promising strategy for protection against dynamic load events, such as blast and impact, is the use of elastomeric cellular armour for energy absorption. Advances in 3D-printing technology have enabled researchers to explore an array of cellular architectures, from the simple hexagonal honeycomb to increasingly complex unit cell geometries inspired by nature and origami.

However, the design of a good protective solution is a complex picture, requiring consideration of the properties of the target, the protective armour itself and the nature of the dynamic threat. In recent work, we considered a simple retrofit solution, a monolithic elastomer coating, applied to concrete targets. This retrofit provided effective protection in certain response regimes (e.g. local impact and severe blast) but not in others (e.g. during fluid-structure interaction and during dynamic flexure). This work raised the question – can we design a better protective solution, perhaps through tuning the material properties or the geometry of the armour?

This PhD will seek to develop design guidelines for effective implementation of elastomeric cellular armour for blast and impact damage mitigation. Finite element analysis will be used to interrogate the regimes of response and the protective mechanisms at play, with a view to tuning the cellular geometry to achieve an optimal protective effect. The modelling will be validated and supplemented by experimentation across a range of strain rates on a variety of 3D-printed elastomeric cellular structures. Failure mechanisms will be interrogated via high-rate experimentation using drop-tower and split-Hopkinson pressure bar apparatus.

Candidate Requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent). A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement by February 2023 in order to be considered for funding.

Enquiries and Applications

Informal enquiries are encouraged! Direct these to Dr Chanel Fallon - [Email Address Removed]

Please make a formal application should via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering

When completing the form, please identify your application as being for the URSA studentship competition in Section 3 Finance (question 2) and quote the project title and lead supervisor’s name in the ‘Your research interests’ section. 

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for funding, you must qualify as a Home student. The eligibility criteria for Home fee status are detailed and too complex to be summarised here in full; however, as a general guide, the following applicants will normally qualify subject to meeting residency requirements:

  • UK nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland)
  • Irish nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland)
  • Those with Indefinite Leave to Remain
  • EU nationals with pre-settled or settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Additional information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage, on the GOV.UK website and on the UKCISA website.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We value a diverse research environment and strive to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We encourage applications from under-represented groups. In particular, we are welcoming applications from candidates with Refugee, Asylum Seeker, or Humanitarian Protection in the UK to our Doctoral Sanctuary Studentship in Engineering and Design.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.

The Disability Service ensures that individuals with disabilities are provided the support that they need. If you state if your application that you have a disability, the Disability Service will contact you as part of this process to discuss your needs.

Keywords: Dynamics; Mechanical Engineering; Mechanics; Solid Mechanics; Structural Engineering

Funding Notes

Candidates may be considered for a University of Bath (URSA) studentship tenable for 3.5 years. Funding covers tuition fees at the ‘Home’ rate, a stipend (£17,668 p/a in 2022/23) and a £1000/annum training budget.
As URSA studentships only cover the ‘Home’ tuition fee rate, Overseas students are not eligible to apply. Are you an Outstanding Overseas student (e.g. with a UK Masters Distinction or international equivalent) who is interested in this project? If so, please contact the intended supervisor in the first instance, to discuss the possibility of applying for additional funding.

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