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PhD Studentship: Life extension of ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) – with Rolls Royce plc


Location:  UK Other
Closing Date:  Thursday 16 March 2023
Reference:  ENG1614

We are looking for a PhD candidate to participate in a programme in partnership with the aerospace industry to address key challenges in the field of materials and manufacturing engineering. The successful candidate will be based in the Composites Research Group and the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre (UTC) at The University of Nottingham. 

We are seeking applicants to start next academic year (October 2023). The PhD position is fully funded and will be sponsored by Rolls Royce plc with a tax-free stipend of £15,200 per year.

Ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) are the new material choice for high temperature applications including aerospace and energy generation. The main advantage of CMCs is that they can withstand 300-400⁰C higher than their metallic counterparts, promoting more efficient usage and promoting a safer implementation. The key in CMCs relies on the fact that even when combining two brittle materials (ceramic fibres embedded in a ceramic matrix) the material does not fail catastrophically like a monolithic ceramic material does. This is achieved by customising the microstructure and making cracks deflect along the fibre-matrix interfaces. This is what enables CMCs to be used in safety-critical applications, such as aeroengines.

The project will study the influence of different damages on Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs) to understand how the material fails in-service and how their life can be extended. This will involve using a wide range of testing and analysis techniques such as micromechanical setups and advanced characterisation techniques.

This is an excellent opportunity for an enthusiastic first or upper second-class graduate in mechanical/manufacturing/materials engineering or related discipline to build strong knowledge in both manufacturing and material science while collaborating with the aerospace industry. Graduates finishing their degrees in June 2023 are also encouraged to apply. A background in microstructural characterisation and/or mechanical testing would be advantageous, but it is not required.

The project includes:

  • Training and supervision within Rolls-Royce plc. The training will enable the understanding of the technical issues related to the project, as well as developing a good partnership with the company.
  • Joint academic and industrial supervision.  In this way, the student will develop both academic and industrial skills with multiple career opportunities at the end of the PhD study.
  • For PhD candidates wishing to pursue an academic career, the opportunity to participate in teaching and outreach activities will be sought.

To apply please provide: 

  • A curriculum vitae (CV)
  • A cover letter summarising your research interests

For inquiries or submission of applications please contact Dr. Oriol Gavalda Diaz –

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