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Computational design of carbon fibre reinforced polymer composites

Project Description

Carbon fibre reinforced polymer composites are used in a wide variety of applications which take advantage of their mechanical thermal and electrical properties. Significant adoption has been for "light weighting" aircraft and automobiles to reduce their energy consumption and emissions. There are however further outstanding opportunities for use of carbon fiber composites, but to realise them will require technology advancement that this project looks to enable. For a gram of a typical composite the surface area of fibre in contact with polymer is of the order of 2000 cm2. It is therefore not surprising that the properties of composites depend not just on the fiber and the polymer, but also on the interface between fibre and polymer.

This project aims to use computer simulations to understand how the interaction between carbon fibres and polymer can influence the properties of the resulting composite. The scope for investigation ranges from thermoset polymers, where polymerisation takes place in the proximity of fibre, to thermoplastic polymers where polymer is synthesised prior to impregnating fibre. As well as enabling the optimisation of the performance properties of composites, the intent of the project is to provide direction on how to engineer fibre surfaces and polymers to facilitate end of use re-cycling of composites.

The project is in close collaboration with the Strategic R&I group of Solvay Composites, based in Wilton, UK.

In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.

Information about the host department can be found by visiting:



Funding Notes

Students applying should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant engineering/science discipline, and be highly motivated to undertake multidisciplinary research. Experience in a UNIX/Linux environment, and with electronic structure or molecular dynamics simulations, is desirable although not essential.

This PhD project is awaiting funding outcome; it is also open to applicants with their own funding or those applying to funding sources. Tuition fees for 2017 for postgraduate research students at the University of Strathclyde are £4,195 for Home/EU students and £18,000 for international students. This does not include bench fees.

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