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Wireless Sensing Design for Structural Health Monitoring of Composites (Advert Reference: FAC19/EE/MCE/LAFDI1)

Project Description

Composite materials are widely used in various sectors such as aerospace, automotive and wind energy. Composite materials are used in various infrastructures due to their weight/strength ratio, durability and feasibility of manufacturing. However, with the use of composite material, structural health monitoring (SHM) of the composite structures becomes an emerging issue. Additionally, many composite structures are designed to store aggressive chemicals such as alkaline and acid solutions. In order to maintain the health of composite structure, many SHM methods are being studied such as impedance spectroscopy/tomography (EIS/EIT), acoustic emission, and fibre optics based spectroscopic methods (modified optical fibre, Bragg fibre grating. But all these methods are not convenient. An easier and cheaper method must be developed. Previously, we have explored the use of carbon nanomaterials and conjugated polymer in detecting the acid penetration in polymer nanocomposites. Based on our experimental and modelling results, we have confirmed the conductivity change of polymer matrix can be used as a primary indicator to monitor the acid penetration in polymer composite. This change of conductivity comes from the penetration of ions. Additionally, we have proposed the idea of using wireless technology in SHM of chemical penetration. Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is one of the best solutions to avoid the wires. The RFID technology uses the magnetic wave to transmit signals in the radio frequency range, respectively, 120 KHz to 10 GHz. Multiple bands are regulated for different applications and the different bands has various ranges (functional distance). The HF range RFID is the mostly deployed and available is most smart-phones. By using appropriate app, one can read the information of the RFID tag easily. However, in order to study and use the RFID tag as a sensor with high signal strength and free of any interferences. The overall research involves sensor fabrication, testing and modelling.

The Principal Supervisor for this project is Professor Khalid Lafdi.

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 more information and informal enquiries please contact Prof. Khalid Lafdi. E-mail:

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. FAC19/EE/MCE/LAFDI1) will not be considered.

Start Date: 1 March 2020

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

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 2019/0, this is £15,009 pa).


• Liu, C., Sergeichev, I., Akhatov, I., & Lafdi, K. (2018). CNT and polyaniline based sensors for the detection of acid penetration in polymer composite. Composites Science and Technology, 159, 111-118.
• Yumna Qureshi, MostaphaTarfaoui, Khalil K.Lafdi and Khalid Lafdi (2019) . Real-time strain monitoring performance of flexible Nylon/Ag conductive fiber, Sensors and Actuators A: Physical Volume 295, 15 August 2019, Pages 612-622.
• Sebastian, J., Schehl, N., Bouchard, M., Boehle, M., Li, L., Lagounov, A., & Lafdi, K. (2014, January). Health monitoring of structural composites with embedded carbon nanotube coated glass fiber sensors. Carbon, 66, 191-200.

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