Apply for a funded PhD position

We offer a range of PhDs funded by different sources, such as research councils, industries or charities. Here you will work with internationally respected academics, post-doctoral research associates and technicians.

To apply for a funded PhD, please read the advertised project information carefully as requirements will vary between funders. The project information will include information such as funding eligibility, application deadline dates and links to application forms. We will only consider applicants who have a relevant background and meet the funding criteria.

Browse our current PhD opportunities

Accordion

  • Fully-funded PhD Studentship in Digital Process Iteration Human-robot for improving brazing safety and productivity NPL

    Details

    Institution: National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC)
    PhD Supervisor: Professor Andrew Kennedy, Dr Yingtao Tian, Nick Ludford/Stefano Tedeschi
    Application Deadline: Open throughout the year
    Funding Availability: Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

    Background

    Brazing is a well-established manufacturing process for a range of different safety-critical components, however, a number of steps are still operator dependent. Of particular criticality is the application of the brazing consumable, typically in a paste or wire form, which is used to form the joint. This requires the use of a skilled operator to correctly apply the consumable for each joint, which is a repetitive and time-consuming activity. The use process digitalisation to optimise the process and consumable application (creating greater production control) could result in significant improvements in process repeatability and robustness.

    Project Outline

    Many industrial manufacturing companies are driven by the desire for automation and smart manufacturing into the fourth industrial revolution – also referred to as Industry 4.0 – through automated and digital process cutting-edge technology such as the Industrial Internet of Things. Also, at the forefront of robotics is the idea of a robot capable of safe, collaborative working with operators to perform tasks across the process.

    This research aims to study and develop an algorithm for human-robot learning control for collaborative output tasks. Such human-robot learning control needs to satisfy two cases:

    • The desired output is directly available to the robot
    • The robot infers the desired output from the human-achieved output

    Therefore, the second challenge for this research is to develop a secure methodology to systematically digitalise a process that is typically very heavily operator dependent. It will be necessary to design robust, safe and secure hardware and software modules, which can be applied to the process to facilitate productivity improvements via the use of robotics. The overall objective is to develop an automated and repeatable digitalised process for the manufacture of safety-critical components.

    Developing a framework around capturing process data, part geometry and handling requirements, securely transferring this data to a service platform (i.e. a Cloud) and then performing data analytics to correlate part performance will be required. This will enable manufacturing companies to minimise downtime, reduce human – process errors, and decrease maintenance costs. Implementation of the framework will result in a more competitive market by providing more efficient solutions to the customer.

    About the Industrial Sponsor

    TWI is a world-leading research and technology organisation. Over 800 staff give impartial technical support in welding, joining, materials science, structural integrity, NDT, surfacing and packaging. Services include generic research, confidential R&D, technical information, technology transfer, training and qualification.

    About NSIRC

    NSIRC is a state-of-the-art postgraduate engineering facility established and managed by structural integrity specialist TWI, working closely with lead academic partner Brunel University, top UK and International Universities and a number of leading industrial partners. NSIRC aims to deliver cutting edge research and highly qualified personnel to its key industrial partners.

    About the University

    Lancaster University is a strong and dynamic university with a very highly regarded Engineering Department. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, 91% of research quality and 100% of impact was assessed as being internationally excellent and world-leading. Lancaster's approach to interdisciplinary collaboration means that it has the pre-eminent capacity and capability for the integration of Engineering with expertise in the areas of data science, autonomous and learning systems, intelligent automation, materials science and cybersecurity. The University is developing an ambitious growth plan for Engineering, including investment in staff, doctoral students, equipment and a new building focused on research themes including Digital and Advanced Manufacturing. Lancaster is the current Times and Sunday Times University of the Year.

    Candidate Requirements

    Candidates should have a relevant degree at 2.1 minimum or an equivalent overseas degree. Candidates with suitable work experience and strong capacity in numerical modelling and experimental skills are particularly welcome to apply. Overseas applicants should also submit IELTS results (minimum 6.5) if applicable.

    Tasks according to the type of project, typically involve:

    • Knowledge and practical experience of computer operating systems, hardware and software
    • knowledge of engineering science and technology
    • analysing user requirements
    • writing and testing code, refining and rewriting it as necessary
    • writing systems to control the scheduling of jobs or to control the access allowed to users or remote systems
    • integrating existing software products and getting incompatible platforms to work together
    • maths knowledge
    • analytical thinking skills
    • design skills
    • the ability to work well with others
    • to be flexible and open to change
    • continually updating technical knowledge and skills by attending in-house and external courses, reading manuals and accessing new applications.

    Funding Notes

    This project is funded by Lancaster University, Lloyds Register Foundation and TWI. The funding covers the cost of Home/EU fees and a standard tax-free RCUK stipend for three years. Non-EU students are welcome to apply, and the funding will cover the cost of overseas fees and a limited stipend for three years.

    How to apply

    For further information, please contact Dr Yingtao Tian (y.tian12@lancaster.ac.uk) with a covering letter and a copy of your CV.

  • A Funded Master by Research project on Design and Implementation of a Multichannel Active Noise Control System in Subbands

     

    Project Framework
    A funded MSc by Research project is available for an outstanding graduate with specific interest in signal processing, control and mechatronics system design. The project is in close collaboration with the industry partner in Germany to develop an active noise control system that addresses the immediate need in the automotive industry to mitigate the broadband and non‐stationary noises.
    The results will be used to mitigate the effect of undesired sound inside the cabin of automobile. Engineering research at Lancaster University has been rated as world leading in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) and you will join a dedicated team of engineers working on audio signal processing problems.

    Project Description
    One important trend in automotive industry is the design of more fuel efficient vehicles by reducing their weight. Reducing the weight of the body of vehicle will inevitably increase the level of noise and vibration inside the cars. It is proved that active control systems will be an attractive potential solution to reduce the level of interior noise and vibration at low frequencies without putting additional weight. To go beyond the conventional methods using passive techniques research and development on active methods proved to be promising during the last decades to achieve an acceptable level of comfort inside the drivers cabin. Since low‐frequency noise is difficult to attenuate by means of passive methods, there is a need to actively control low‐frequency noise in confined spaces.

    Achieving this aim, necessitates implementation of a feedforward multichannel active noise control system with several references microphones, secondary sources, and error sensors in a multi‐dimensional noise field. The most commonly used algorithm for this purpose is the so called Filtered‐x LMS algorithm and its variants. Specifically, adaptation of ANC algorithms in nonstationary environments and their stability in front of uncertainties in the secondary path is a subject that is less studied and requires more investigation.

    Application Details
    Potential candidate for this position are expected to have the following qualifications
    ‐ Should have or expect to achieve a first‐class or upper second‐class degree in Engineering at the level of MSc, MEng, BEng or a lower second with a good master thesis (or overseas equivalents) in a relevant subject.
    ‐ The fund is available for UK/EU students; however, international students could also apply under circumstances.
    ‐ Sufficient background on signal processing, control or closely related discipline.
    ‐ Practical experiences on implementation of the single processing and control algorithms on DSP boards or embedded systems.
    ‐ Computer programming skills such as MATLAB are essential for the position.
    ‐ You should have excellent interpersonal skills, work effectively in a team and have experience of the preparation of presentations, reports or scientific papers to the highest levels of quality.

    Funding Notes
    The fund covers Home/EU tuition fees and a stipend (approx. 900 euros per month) which is available for one year study and the student will be based in the company in Munich, Germany for the whole period of the project. International students may apply if they can cover the difference in tuition fees.
    To declare your interest and request further information about the application procedure, please send a copy of your CV along with the cover letter to Dr Allahyar Montazeri ().

  • Fully-funded PhD Studentship in Tomographic imaging for geophysics and medical physics

    Details

    Primary PhD Supervisor: Dr Lai Bun Lok

    Second PhD Supervisor: Professor Claudio Paoloni

    Application Deadline: Open until position filled

    Funding Eligibility

    This project is fully funded for 3.5 years covering payment of UK/EU only tuition fees and an annual tax-free stipend (£15,009 for 2019/2020), at the standard RCUK rate.

    Project Description

    Tomography is an imaging modality that is widely exploited across the electromagnetic spectrum in diverse fields such as geophysics and biomedical engineering. When the technique is applied with active phase-coherent sensors, it is possible to obtain precise measurements of vertical displacement of layers within a structure under test. Application examples may include the motion of internal layering within an ice sheet, subsurface water flow and the mechanical properties of tissue inside a biological specimen.

    The project will involve the development of robust algorithms for accurately retrieving displacement from experimental time-lapse datasets available within the collaborating team based in Cambridge and London [1, 2]. As a PhD candidate, you will attain expertise in tomographic imaging using computational techniques, as well as proficiency in the design of high-frequency imaging systems using facilities available in the Engineering Department. 

    The successful candidate will have or expect to have, a UK Honours Degree (or equivalent) at 2.1 or above in either electronic engineering, physics, mathematics or a related subject. Preferred skills include knowledge/experience of MATLAB programming, computational electromagnetics and digital signal processing.

    Informal inquiries can be made to Dr Lai Bun Lok (email l.lok@lancaster.ac.uk, Tel: 01524 510827) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. 

    References 

    [1] T. J. Young, D. M. Schroeder, P. Christoffersen, L. B. Lok, K. W. Nicholls, P. V. Brennan, S. H. Doyle, B. P. Hubbard, A. L. Hubbard, “Resolving glacier internal and basal geometry of ice masses using imaging phase-sensitive radar,” Journal of Glaciology, vol. 64, issue 246, pp. 649 – 660, Aug 2018

    [2] K. W. Nicholls, H. F. J. Corr, C. L. Stewart, L. B. Lok, P. V. Brennan, and D. G. Vaughan “A ground-based radar for measuring vertical strain rates and time-varying basal melt rates in ice sheets and shelves,” Journal of Glaciology, vol. 61, no. 230, pp. 1079-1087, Dec 2015

  • Comparative analysis of energy storage transitions from an energy economics perspective: Fully funded PhD studentship (3 years) in the Department of Engineering at Lancaster University, funded by the Leverhulme Centre for Material Social Futures Research and the Department of Engineering.

    The Leverhulme PhD Training Centre for Material Social Futures brings together concepts and approaches from across the disciplines to help produce futures that people want and the world needs. The doctoral training is a major new strategic collaborative partnership between the vibrant research community of the University’s Institute for Social Futures and the Materials Science Institute.  Based in the Department of Engineering with co-supervision from the Department of Chemistry, you will undertake your PhD research alongside PhDs researching the materials science aspects of this topic.

    Lancaster’s Department of Engineering is internationally excellent, conducting world-leading research. It is ranked highly in national league tables; in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, 91% of research and 100% of impact in General Engineering was assessed as internationally excellent and world leading. It is 8th in the UK and 112th in the world for paper citations in QS World Ranking 2018. Additionally, the University has recently approved a £22M Engineering Growth Plan, which will further strengthen all areas of Engineering, including supporting an expansion in space, staff and facilities. This new expertise and the installation of world-leading facilities will facilitate widespread academic collaborations across a number of HEIs and research centres, adding value to current and future large investments in UK research and will greatly enhance our ability to form strategic partnership with large industrial partners. These and other PhDs will all be members of and participants in a multi-stranded PhD research training programme in Material Social Futures. Lancaster’s Department of Engineering is internationally excellent, conducting world-leading research. The project will also benefit from full access to the state-of-the-art facilities and labs at the Department of Chemistry, Lancaster’s library, and the intellectual network provided by Energy Lancaster, and the Materials Science Institute.

    Background:

    Technological diffusion or innovation diffusion is the process through which certain innovations are spread throughout the members of a society over a period of time. The elements that make up the process are the innovation technology, methods of communication, time, and the fabric of society – with its producers and consumers. Dynamic simulation modelling can be used to identify the rate at which the technologies around the world are expanding into the 4th industrial revolution. This method can also provide useful insights into how lesser-developed countries can catch up to the more developed countries – with them often “leap-frogging” certain technologies. In the present time, one of the most interesting technology transitions is that of energy production, consumption and storage. From the perspective of primary energy, we have experienced only a handful of transitions in the past (e.g. wind → coal, coal → oil, oil → gas), and none of them have included a transition to a rate-based energy system. Therefore, the oncoming transition to major renewable energy production technologies (e.g. onshore and offshore wind, photovoltaics) across the leading economies of the world presents a considerable challenge from both a technical, economic and social perspectives, especially when considering the need to design supporting energy storage scenarios (e.g. electrochemical energy storage, pumped hydro energy storage, hydrogen or other gas storage), under various contextual circumstances.

    The Project:

    This project aims to help quantify sustainable transitions of energy systems from an economic (return on investment) as we all an energetic (energy return on energy investment) perspective. It will specifically focus on the diffusion of renewable energy generation and energy storage technologies across the world, and by extending [1] and [2], build a socio-technological model with the aim of understanding various energy transition contexts – and thus map the best energy storage solutions to them. Under the supervision of Dr Denes Csala in the Department of Engineering. The analysis will be conducted from energy economics viewpoint, taking into the account not the just the cost of these technologies but also the energy return on energy investment (coupled with energy stored on energy investment), as well as social benefits. The preferred method to be used for modelling will be system dynamics or agent-based simulation modelling (though other methods and approaches might be investigated). This project complements several others in the Material Social Futures Centre, each looking at different aspects of energy, its material bases, and the social practices that leverage and shape energy, and specifically the one entitled “The social lives of battery materials”, which is currently running in the Department of Chemistry and focuses on the electrochemical energy storage in the transport sector. Integral to the project will be analysis of the materials that are used to produce energy storage technologies. In addition to their economic costs, the social and environmental implications of their production, use and end-of-life treatment will be taken into account. Here the link will be made with the secondary supervisor Dr John Griffin in the Department of Chemistry who is currently working on several projects focused on battery materials and will provide input into the chemical and material considerations of different energy storage technologies. The main desired outcome of the project is a set of publications, built upon simulation models to inform energy policy at the country and regional decision-making levels.

     

    [1] Sgouridis and Csala. "A framework for defining sustainable energy transitions: principles, dynamics, and implications." Sustainability 6.5 (2014): 2601-2622.

    [2] Sgouridis, Csala, et al. "Comparative net energy analysis of renewable electricity and carbon capture and storage." Nature Energy 4.6 (2019): 456-465.

     

    Further Details:

    • The scholarship will cover full payment of academic fees (at the standard RCUK rate);

    • A maintenance stipend (£15,009 pa subject to annual inflation increments);

    • It is available to all UK and EU citizens;

    • Access to a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) for reimbursement of research-related expenses including – but not limited to – conference attendance, training courses and equipment of at least £800 p.a.;

    • Access to a range of training and development provided by the Material Social Futures PhD programme, the Department of Engineering, the Department of Chemistry, the Faculty of Science and Technology, the Institute for Social Futures and Lancaster University;

    • The Material Social Futures PhD programme will offer internships (including international placements) in the second and/or third year of training.
       


    Requirements:

    We are looking forward to receiving candidacies of applicants who hold an undergraduate degree in Engineering, Economics or a related STEM discipline and preferably a Master’s degree (or equivalent work experience) in a connected field. Exceptional candidates with only an undergraduate degree finishing by October 2020 will also be considered.

    The ideal candidate will have experience with (one or more) system dynamics modelling, agent-based simulations, energy systems modelling, energy return on energy investment calculations, understanding the workings of energy generation and storage systems and energy economics in general.

    Application Details:
    We very much welcome informal queries about this opportunity, which should be directed to Dr Denes Csala (d.csala@lancaster.ac.uk), Dr John Griffin (j.griffin@lancaster.ac.uk).

    Interested candidates should submit a CV and a covering letter (not exceeding 2 pages of A4) outlining how you would approach the research. Reasonable proposals to moderately steer away or delve deeper into a particular aspect of the listed research topic will also be considered. 

    Closing date: we must receive your application by 1st August 2020, for starting on 1st October 2020

    Another opportunity available with Dr Denes Csala is the Fully funded PhD studentship (3.5 years) on 'A study in policy synchronisation for designing sustainable energy transitions.' This is advertised here also - see below.

  • Funded Master by Research project on Design and Simulation of an Active Noise Control System in the Spherical Domain

    Project Framework
    A funded MSc by Research project is available for an outstanding graduate with specific interest on signal processing, control and acoustic numerical simulations. The project is in close collaboration with the industry partner in Germany to develop and validate a simulation environment for active noise control systems that addresses the immediate need in the automotive industry
    to mitigate the harmonic noise in a confined space in extended quite zone. Engineering research at Lancaster University has been rated as world leading in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) and you will join a dedicated team of engineers working on audio signal processing problems.

    Project Description
    One important trend in automotive industry is the design of more fuel efficient vehicles by reducing their weight. Reducing the weight of the body of vehicle will inevitably increase the level of noise and vibration inside the cars. Vehicle interior noise is a combination of different sources, amongst them, engine noise, road noise, exhaust noise, and aerodynamic noise are the most important. To go beyond the conventional methods using passive techniques, research and development on active methods proved to be promising during
    the last decades to achieve an acceptable level of comfort in‐side the driver’s cabin. The focus of most of studies so far have been reduction of noise and vibration at some specific points around the microphone positions.
    The aim of this study is to model the sound field in a confined space in the spherical domain as the first step. After validation of the model using the experimental results, it is expected to design a novel active noise control system with the ability to extend the quite zone around the head of passengers. This requires investigating the factors influencing the spatial extent of the quite zone and formulating them in the control system design for compensation.

    Application Details
    Potential candidate for this position are expected to have the following qualifications
    ‐ Should have or expect to achieve a first‐class or upper second‐class degree in Engineering at the level of MSc, MEng, BEng or a lower second with a good master thesis (or overseas equivalents) in a relevant subject.
    ‐ The fund is available for UK/EU students; however, international students could also apply under circumstances.
    ‐ Sufficient background on signal processing, control or closely related discipline.
    ‐ Practical experiences on implementation of the single processing and control algorithms on DSP boards or embedded systems.
    ‐ Computer programming skills such as MATLAB are essential for the position.
    ‐ You should have excellent interpersonal skills, work effectively in a team and have experience of the preparation of presentations, reports or scientific papers to the highest levels of quality.

    Funding Notes
    The fund covers Home/EU tuition fees and a stipend (approx. 900 euros per month) which is available for one year study and the student will be based in the company in Munich, Germany for the whole period of the project. International students may apply if they can cover the difference in tuition fees.
    To declare your interest and request further information about the application procedure, please send a copy of your CV along with the cover letter to Dr Allahyar Montazeri ().

  • Towards a self-healing hydrogen-powered fuel-cell: Fully funded PhD studentship (3.5 years) in Engineering Department at Lancaster University, funded by the Leverhulme Centre for Material Social Futures Research and Engineering Department.

    The Leverhulme PhD Training Centre for Material Social Futures brings together concepts and approaches from across the disciplines to help produce futures that people want and the world needs. The doctoral training is a major new strategic collaborative partnership between the vibrant research community of the University’s Institute for Social Futures and the Materials Science Institute. Based in the Engineering Department, you will undertake your PhD research alongside PhDs researching the materials science aspects of this topic. These and other PhDs will all be members of and participants in a multi-stranded PhD research training programme in Material Social Futures.

    Lancaster’s Engineering Department is internationally excellent, conducting world-leading research. It is ranked highly in national league tables; in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, 91% of research and 100% of impact in General Engineering was assessed as internationally excellent and world-leading. It is 8th in the UK and 112th in the world for paper citations in QS World Ranking 2018. Additionally, the University has recently approved a £22M Engineering Growth Plan, which will further strengthen all areas of Engineering, including supporting an expansion in space, staff and facilities. This new expertise and the installation of world-leading facilities will facilitate widespread academic collaborations across a number of HEIs and research centres, adding value to current and future large investments in UK research and will greatly enhance our ability to form a strategic partnership with large industrial partners. The project will also benefit from full access to the state-of-the-art facilities of Lancaster’s library, its Special Collections and Archives and the Materials Science Institute and the intellectual network provided by the Centre for Mobilities Research and the Institute for Social Futures.

    Background:

    Hydrogen powered polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) are energy efficient and environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional energy conversion systems in many emerging applications. However, there is an increasing need to improve their performance and durability. The underpinning polymer electrolyte membrane, which is sandwiched between the anode and the cathode, allows movements of cations (protons) while blocking the movement of electrons and gas. The water uptake and retention properties of the membrane plays a pivotal role in the operational performance of PEMFC. For example, where the membrane is insufficiently hydrated, power output is reduced potentially leading to eventual material damage. On the other hand, where there is too much hydration, flooding results leading to a reduced output and again potential damage to the cell. The membrane is also susceptible to wear and tear under normal operations, which results in cracks and holes, thus allowing hydrogen and oxygen to come into direct contact resulting in cell failure. These defects are almost impossible to detect and repair during cell operation, with the only viable solution being to replace the entire membrane electrode assembly, which is prohibitively expensive. This issue is compounded by cells operating in large series of connected stacks such that when one cell fails, the whole stack fails. Inspired by the natural process of recovery common to all living organisms, self-healing membranes have been proposed to perform spot repairs autonomously. These membranes can perform self-repair either by mimicking mechanically triggered chemistry or by the storage and release of liquid reagents. Demonstrations using such membranes on methanol fuel cells have already been made, though due to the low output power, such cells are only expected to find applications in consumer goods market such as mobile phones and laptops. Opportunities therefore loom to realise a hydrogen PEMFC using self-healing membrane, which will be able to produce higher output power, sufficient for applications such as electric vehicles, with a sustained working life and safety profile.

    The Project:

    Your project will realise a hydrogen-based fuel cell using self-healing membrane techniques such as reversible hydrogen bonding. As the membrane water uptake and retention properties will significantly affect the operational performance of a PEMFC, you will also use state-of-the-art techniques to characterise the water retention properties of the membranes for comparisons against existing polymer-based membranes. This will be an innovative circular solution to future clean energy.

    To improve the social acceptability and societal readiness of any innovation, as well as support general public understanding of hydrogen based energy sources in the UK, your project will frame the fuel cell within in the wider context of social practicability of sustainability transformations and the ever-changing energy landscape. This can enable hydrogen as the bulk energy vector in future smart energy systems.

    Further Details:

    • • The scholarship will cover full payment of Home/EU tuition fees (at the standard RCUK rate) for 3.5 years;
    • • A maintenance stipend (£15,009 pa subject to annual inflation increments);
    • • It is available to all UK and EU citizens;
    • • Access to a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) for reimbursement of research-related expenses including – but not limited to – conference attendance, training courses and equipment of at least £800 p.a.;
    • • Access to a range of training and development provided by the Material Social Futures PhD Programme, the Department of Sociology, the Engineering Department, the Faculty of Science and Technology, the Institute for Social Futures and Lancaster University;
    • • The Material Social Futures PhD programme will offer internships (including international placements) in the second and/or third year of training.

    Deadline and closing date: 1st August 2020 (for start on 1st October 2020)

    Requirements:

    Candidates must have qualifications in physical sciences/engineering, especially in Chemical or Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry, Physics or Materials Science, with demonstrated interests in clean and sustainable energy and in the social, economic and environmental impacts of new technologies. An interest in using social theory and social science methods is required.

    Informal queries:

    We very much welcome informal queries about this opportunity, which should be directed to Dr Hungyen Lin ((h.lin2@lancaster.ac.uk), Dr Richard Dawson (r.dawson@lancaster.ac.uk) and Professor Monika Büscher (m.buscher@lancaster.ac.uk)

    Application Details

    Interested candidates should please send a covering letter (not exceeding 2 pages of A4) to Dr Hungyen Lin (h.lin2@lancaster.ac.uk) outlining your suitability for a PhD and explaining how you would approach the research and a full CV, including two named referees (one of whom should be your most recent academic tutor/supervisor).

  • Fully-funded PhD Studentship in (Sponsored by Lloyds Register Foundation) Real time evaluation of weld quality during Friction Stir Welding (Industry 4.0)

    First Supervisor: Professor Andrew Kennedy

    Second Supervisor: Dr Yingtao Tian

    Background

    Friction Stir Welding (FSW) is a solid state joining technique which is being used in a variety of industries worldwide. Applications include the manufacture of trains, space vehicles, aeroplanes and cars. While the application of FSW Technology continues to grow, real time quality monitoring is needed for the automation of FSW. To date, very few significant contributions have been reported regarding in-process monitoring and adaptive control. Having an in-process real time quality monitoring system would significantly increase process acceptability, data exchange and integration with other systems, as well as reduce the need for post-weld destructive and non-destructive testing.

    Approach

    FSW is a joining technique that relies on localised forging and extrusion of the material to be joined around a rotating tool. There are many variables which affect making a successful joint: process parameters, tool geometry and wear, machine stability, condition of supply of the component, work holding etc.

    This project will investigate how these variables affect weld quality, sensors will be selected and installed on the FSW machine(s) and used to assess the FSW environment and through collection and analysis of data establish if the process is in control and (non-destructively) if a good weld is expected.

    Initially this would be through analysis of high frequency force and torque signals, however other signals such as sound, vibration, temperature etc. could be introduced.

    Deliverables

    The deliverables would be two fold:

    For industry

    • An open loop non-destructive evaluation system which could be used to (a) monitor and qualify that the welds produced are to a standard or (b) detect unexpected occurrences such as tool breakage.
    • A closed loop feedback system which could detect the onset of process breakdown and adapt the process parameters to re-establish good welding.

    For Research  

    • An analytical system which would guide engineers in developing and optimising FSW tool design and process parameters for specific welding applications reducing development lead times.

     

    About Industrial Sponsor
    The Lloyd’s Register Foundation funds the advancement of engineer-related education and research and supports work that enhances safety of life at sea, on land and in the air, because life matters. Lloyd’s Register Foundation is partly funded by the profits of their trading arm Lloyd’s Register Group Limited, a global engineering, technical and business services organisation.

    About NSIRC
    NSIRC is a state-of-the-art postgraduate engineering facility established and managed by structural integrity specialist TWI, working closely with, top UK and International Universities and a number of leading industrial partners. NSIRC aims to deliver cutting edge research and highly qualified personnel to its key industrial partners.

    About the University
    Lancaster University is a strong and dynamic university with a very highly regarded Engineering Department.  In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, 91% of research quality and 100% of impact was assessed as being internationally excellent and world leading. Lancaster’s approach to interdisciplinary collaboration means that it has pre-eminent capacity and capability for the integration of Engineering with expertise in the areas of data science, autonomous and learning systems, intelligent automation, materials science and cyber security. The University is developing an ambitious growth plan for Engineering, including investment in staff, doctoral students, equipment and a new building focussed on research themes including Digital and Advanced Manufacturing.  Lancaster is the current Times and the Sunday Times University of the Year.

    Candidate Requirements
    Candidates should have a relevant degree at 2.1 minimum, or an equivalent overseas degree in:

    • Engineering (Mechanical, Controls, Manufacturing)
    • Materials science
    • Physics

    Candidates with suitable work experience and strong capacity in numerical modelling and experimental skills are particularly welcome to apply. Overseas applicants should also submit IELTS results (minimum 6.5), if applicable.

    This collaborative project will involve the majority of time spent at TWI in Cambridge, but there is an expectation that the Student will spend a proportion of their time at Lancaster University.

    Funding Notes
    This project is funded by Lancaster University, Lloyds Register Foundation and TWI. The funding covers the cost of Home/EU tuition fees and a standard tax-free RCUK stipend for three years. Non-EU students are welcome to apply, but the funding will only cover the cost of overseas tuition fees and the applicant need to self-fund their living cost for three years.

    How to apply

    For further information, please contact Dr Yingtao Tian (y.tian12@lancaster.ac.uk). Interested candidates should send a covering letter with a copy of their CV to Dr Tian in the first instance.

  • Fully-funded PhD Studentship in Development of 3D DEM models for analysis of hybrid joints: a microscale approach

    This research will focus on the development of 3D DEM models to simulate deformation and failure processes in hybrid joints.

    There will be three main tasks: 1. To conduct mechanical test from microscale to macroscale for hybrid joints using advanced mechanical testing systems. 2. To develop mathematical contact models in 3D coupling mechanical/thermal properties and failure criteria based on micromechanical experimental results. 2. To develop DEM models for hybrid joints with features of microstructure. The models of the single-lap hybrid adhesive joints will be developed based on the data obtained from the micro-CT scanning and the constitutive models developed in Task 2. The developed models will be validated with real world experimental results.

    This challenging project is an excellent opportunity for the successful candidate to develop knowledge in micro-fracture mechanics and skill in a novel numerical modelling technique DEM. In addition, the candidate will have opportunities to access state of the art facilities in High Value Manufacturing Centres around the UK and participate in meetings with leading industries and academic conferences.

    Qualifications and experience required:
    • Candidates should have a relevant degree at 2.1 minimum or an equivalent overseas degree in Mechanical Engineering, Physics or Applied Mathematics.
    • A good background in computer programming, solid mechanics and mathematics.
    • Experiences in numerical modelling.
    • Excellent oral and written communication skills with ability to prepare presentations, reports and journal papers to the highest levels of quality.
    • Excellent interpersonal skills to work effectively in a team consisting of PhD students and postdoctoral researchers.

    Further Details:

    The scholarship will cover full payment of Home/EU tuition fees (at the standard RCUK rate) for 3.5 years;

    A maintenance stipend (£15,009 pa subject to annual inflation increments);

    Although the funding available covers UK/EU tuition fees only, non-UK/EU students are welcome to apply if they are able to make up the difference in fees.

    Informal enquiries:

    Interested candidates should in the first instance contact Dr Xiaonan Hou at with a cover letter and a copy of their CV (2 pages maximum).

  • Fully-funded PhD Studentship: A study in policy synchronisation for designing sustainable energy transitions

    About the Project

    Several countries, including the UK, have clear internal combustion vehicle phase-out. However, more often than not, the transport decarbonization strategy is not tied to any significant corresponding electricity scale-up plan – and even less so a renewable energy deployment plan. We are offering a fully-funded, 3.5 year scholarship to conduct doctoral research in modelling of synchronizing electricity, heating, transportation and climate policies under various future network toplogies, so we avoid lock-in effects and timeline mismatches.

    As future transportation as energy systems will have include an energy storage component, this severely increases the difficulty of creating national and local energy transitions strategies. The objective of the research is to create a simulation model that is able to guide and inform policy in this sector. In the long-term, this will greatly contribute to our understanding of the complex relationships between these policies and engineering systems, including taking into account the effects of AI and automation.

    The research will specifically study the diffusion of transport and energy policies across the world across history – and build a techno-economic transitions model with the aim of understanding various energy transition contexts and map the best solutions pertaining to them, e.g. anticipating and building capacity for electric vehicle charging in certain area before the grid gets overwhelmed. It will focus on the diffusion of hydrogen-powered and battery electric vehicle technology, alongside major renewable energy technologies across the leading economies of the world and design supporting storage scenarios for them under various contextual circumstances. It will consider electrochemical energy storage, pumped hydro energy storage, hydrogen or other gas storage as supporting technologies. Ideally, a network toplogy analysis will be conducted from an energy economics viewpoint (net energy analysis), taking into the account not the just the cost of these technologies but also the energy return on energy investment and as social benefits.

    Requirements

    Candidates should have a 1st class degree (or equivalent) in systems engineering, economics, , network science or computer science or an equivalent field. The ideal candidate will have experience with system dynamics simulation modelling, energy systems modelling and energy return on energy investment calculations methodology and what is their future strategy on policy, investment and regulation. Good knowledge of historical energy transitions or technology diffusion would constitute an strong advantage.

    This project will require a self-motivated and high performing candidate. The expectation is for a candidate with excellent interpersonal skills who will perform research work of high quality and publish their work in leading internationally refereed journals. This doctoral research project will be supervised by Lancaster University and is funded by the Engineering Department.

    Informal enquiries

    Interested candidates should in the first instance contact Dr Denes Csala at with a cover letter and a copy of their CV (2 pages maximum). 

    Funding notes

    A fully funded PhD studentship covering UK/EU tuition fees (stipend and fees for 3.5 years)

    Another opportunity available with Dr Denes Csala is the Fully funded PhD studentship (3 years) on ’Comparative analysis of energy storage transitions from an energy economics perspective’ in the Department of Engineering at Lancaster University. This is also advertised here, see above.

  • A fully-funded PhD studentship on High-power On-Board Chargers for Electric Vehicles

    Details

    PhD Supervisors: Dr Ahmed Darwish Badawy (Primary) and Dr Xiandong Ma (Secondary)
    Application Deadline: 25th July 2020
    Funding Availability: Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

    Background

    The remarkable progress of battery electric vehicles (EVs) has led to significant industrial and environmental benefits such as reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, improving the vehicle performance, and increasing the competitiveness with the conventional internal combustion engine cars. It is estimated that more than 3 million electric cars have been sold by 2018 and this number is expected to increase in the foreseeable future. Increasing the power rating of on-board chargers (OBC) is crucial for the development of EVs industry.

    Project outline

    The development of battery capacity is essential to improve the EVs performance and reduce the users’ concern about the reliability of EVs. Presently, the high-power charging technology is associated with off-board chargers. Finding solutions to increase the power density of the OBCs will improve the functionality and the reliability of the EVs and will enable a simpler connection to the high-power AC mains. In the same time, the high-power OBCs will create challenges to reduce the size, weight and volume of the power converters in the EV.  An attractive solution for high-power OBCs is single-stage charging systems. Thus, the EV manufacturer’s constraints on volume, weight and efficiency can be met. If the vehicles are required to be connected to the utility grid, the coordination between the charging system in the EV and the grid side will be required to keep the OBC devices’ voltages and currents in the acceptable ranges. In addition, the dynamic performance of the utility grid with the increased number of EVs should be studied. In this context, the use of Wide-Band Gap devices such as GaN semiconductors will play an important role in the integration of the OBC charging system with the propulsion system.

    Funding

    The PhD studentship covers the cost of international tuition fees and a maintenance stipend (£15,285 pa subject to annual inflation increments) for 3 years for a PhD student starting in October.

    Application Details

    Potential candidate for this position is expected to have the following qualifications

    1. Should have or expect to achieve a first‐class or upper second‐class degree in Engineering at the level of MSc, MEng, BEng or a lower second with a good master thesis (or overseas equivalents) in a relevant subject.

    2. Sufficient background in power electronic, electrical machines and practical control or closely related discipline.

    3. Knowledge of synchronous machine properties and performance

    4. Knowledge of power quality

    5. Practical experiences on implementation of power electronics and control algorithms on DSP kits or micro-controllers.

    6. Experience with Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs).

    7. Computer programming skills such as MATLAB are essential for the position.

    8. It is desired if the applicant has a conference or journal papers in a relevant field

    9. You should have excellent interpersonal skills, work effectively in a team and have experience of the preparation of presentations, reports or scientific papers to the highest levels of quality.

    How to apply

    For further information, please contact Dr Ahmed Badawy (a.badawy@lancaster.ac.uk) with a covering letter, supporting statement explaining your appropriateness to the topic and a copy of your CV.

  • Fully-funded PhD Studentship in SICODELIQ - SImulated COntamination assisted DEcontamination of highly active LIQuid facilities

    At Sellafield, a number of major facilities will enter Post-Operational Clean Out (POCO) and decommissioning over the next 10 years. These include:

    •            The Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP);

    •            Magnox Reprocessing; and

    •            The Highly Active Liquid Evaporation & Storage plant (HALES).

    All three of these major facilities involve the handling of highly active (HA) liquids within a variety of plant (pipework, vessels, evaporators etc) primarily comprised of a range of steels and associated metal alloys; POCO will therefore necessarily involve the decontamination of these metal surfaces. Contamination deposition mechanisms range from simple sorption (precipitation of solids) to sophisticated corrosion processes (passive, pitting, transpassive etc) resulting in radionuclides being affixed in a number of ways. Given this wide range of possible contamination mechanisms, a similarly wide range of decontamination methods has been developed.

    The selection and/or design of a cost effective, waste minimal and efficient decontamination method has two principal requirements:

    1.           Knowledge of the chemical nature of that contamination and how it is affixed.

    2.           The capacity to test the decontamination techniques identified as being potentially appropriate by that knowledge.

    Therefore, in light of requirement 1, there is a need to chemically characterise the contamination that may arise from exposure of process plant surfaces to highly active liquid process and effluent streams in order to inform the development or selection of the optimum decontamination method.

    Fortunately, a means by which such characterisation may be achieved is available. As part of the general plant monitoring of the Magnox Reprocessing Plant, a number of steel, nickel and zirconium alloy coupons were suspended in the Magnox HA liquid process streams wherein they necessarily became contaminated. These now form a library of samples whose contamination can be considered to be truly representative of that found on plant.

    In light of requirement 2, testing on the actual system where the contamination arises is appropriate. However, this is expensive, time consuming and presents challenges in terms of minimising operator exposure. Simulating contamination with substitute contaminants provides an inherently safer, less expensive and often more informative means by which to trial decontamination methods. The development of such simulants again requires a detailed and fundamental understanding of the original “real” contamination system.

    Thus this PhD project, SICODELIQ, will have three main objectives:

    1.           Using the plant monitoring coupons, to characterise chemically the nature of the contamination entrained or adsorbed thereon. This will be achieved by materials characterisation using the microscopy and spectroscopy facilities available within NNL’s Central and Windscale Laboratories, the UK’s largest nuclear research facility for the conduct of radioactive experiments.

    2.           Based on the materials characterisation data obtained from the contaminated coupons, we will develop representative non-active simulant systems for a range of plant metals and alloys that have been exposed to highly active liquid process streams.

    3.           Finally, employing these simulant systems, we will determine the efficiency of metal surface decontamination using a range of chemically based decontamination methods including those based on aqueous and non-aqueous solvents, redox reagents, chelants, acid/base treatments, gels and foams.

    This work is a collaboration with the UK National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and will be based at the Centre for Innovative Nuclear Decommissioning (CINDe) at NNL’s Workington Laboratory.

    Application procedure:  To apply, send a copy of your CV to Professor Colin Boxall, Engineering Department, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YR, or by email to c.boxall@lancaster.ac.uk. Informal enquiries to this address are also very welcome.

    Closing date for applications: 10th August 2020

  • Full-funded PhD Studentship in The Safe Storage of Plutonium Oxide

    PHD – Funded by the Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) and Sellafield Ltd for 4 years

    The safe and secure storage of plutonium (Pu) materials is a matter of international concern with ~250 tonnes of separated Pu stockpiled worldwide. Over half of this, resulting from ~50 years civil nuclear fuel reprocessing, is in long term storage in the UK whilst the Government considers options for its final treatment and disposition. This Pu is stored as calcined PuO2 powder in nested, sealed steel storage cans. Under certain circumstances, gas generation may occur with consequent storage package pressurisation. In practice, this is rarely seen and empirically derived criteria are used to maintain safe storage conditions. Nonetheless, this is a potential scenario that must be avoided in practice – thus the fundamental mechanisms that could lead to pressurisation must be understood. 5 main routes have been suggested:

    (i)           Helium accumulation from alpha decay;

    (ii)          Decomposition of polymeric packing material;

    (iii)         Steam produced by H2O desorption from hygroscopic PuO2 due to self-heating;

    (iv)         Radiolysis of adsorbed water; and,

    (v)          Generation of H2 by chemical reaction of PuO2 with H2O.

    The last 4 mechanisms are being studied as part of the work of the EPSRC TRANSCEND (TRANSformative SCience & Engineering for Nuclear Decommissiong) consortium (www.transcendconsortium.org). This project, a collaboration between the University of Lancaster, the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and Sellafield Ltd, seeks to understand the role that the first of these mechanisms, helium from alpha decay, might play in pressurisation. Innovative sample preparation and thermal / gravimetric analysis methods for the study of this will first be developed at the university and then deployed on real samples at NNL. Data & knowledge generated will be transferred to Sellafield Ltd via the NNL and used in better underpinning of the Pu storage safety cases.

    The appointee will interact with both Sellafield Ltd and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), the UK’s largest nuclear research facility for the conduct of radioactive experiments.

    This studentship is offered as part of the “Growing skills for Reliable Economic Energy from Nuclear” (GREEN) Centre for Doctoral Training (https://www.nuclear-energy-cdt.manchester.ac.uk/), a collaboration between the Universities of Lancaster, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield. GREEN aims to develop and deliver the research and skills required to address key challenges in the field of nuclear energy across the entire fuel cycle.

     

    Application procedure:  To apply, send a copy of your CV to Professor Colin Boxall, Engineering Department, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YR, or by email to c.boxall@lancaster.ac.uk. Informal enquiries to this address are also very welcome.

    Closing date for applications: 8th August 2020

  • Fully-funded PhD Studentship in Ruthenium: Nuclear’s Volatile Problem

    PHD – Funded by the Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) and Sellafield Ltd for 4 years

    Ruthenium is a fission product possessed of two relatively long lived stable isotopes: Ru-103 (half life = 39.8 days) and Ru-106 (half life = 1 year). Both isotopes are present in UK spent fuel and so have had to be accounted for during the reprocessing or disposal of that fuel. At a number of stages during the processing of spent fuel, ruthenium can be exposed to high nitric acid, high temperature conditions that may lead to its transfer into the gas phase as ruthenium tetroxide. Two such stages are the dissolution of spent fuel into concentrated nitric acid at the start of reprocessing, and the vitrification of ruthenium into a glass waste form after reprocessing has occurred.

    Volatilisation is to be avoided as the resultant gas phase ruthenium may then redeposit within metal pipework elsewhere in the plant which will then have to be decontaminated. However, ruthenium volatilisation occurs at unexpectedly low temperatures. Whilst RuO2 is not seen to volatilise below 900oC, gaseous ruthenium oxides have been seen to evolve from solutions of Ru in nitric acid at temperatures as low as 150oC – making the management of ruthenium difficult during reprocessing and vitrification.

    Thus, given its volatile nature and high specific radioactivity ruthenium presents a strong challenge to the nuclear industry in effectively managing its abatement. Key challenges are to fully understand the highly complex solution/solid state chemistries that obtain not only under conditions relevant to dissolvers, evaporators and vitrification plants, but also in the decontamination methods used in its clean up. Using a combination of chemical, analytical and engineering approaches, we shall seek to address these challenges in this PhD. The specific objectives of the PhD will be to:

    1)           Develop gravimetric, mass spectroscopic, electrochemical and spectroscopic analytical methods that will improve the understanding of ruthenium speciation in high nitric acid environments and oxidation state interconversion during oxidative / thermal treatment of same.

    2)           Using these methods, to establish the kinetics of interconversion between ruthenium species, most especially Ru(III) to Ru(IV) and Ru(VIII) and Ru(IV) to Ru(VIII), and the resultant product distributions of these processes.

    3)           To establish the influence that Ru(III) complexation may have on these interconversions and the role that RuO2 may have in supporting or inhibiting volatilisation.

    4)           Establish the mechanism by which other fission product metal ions such as Ce(IV) may oxidise and thus potentially volatilise ruthenium.

    5)           Investigate the role that key NOx species such as NO and HNO2 may have on oxidising Ru(III) directly or inhibiting the putative Ce(IV)-driven oxidation of Ru(III).

    The appointee will interact with both Sellafield Ltd and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), the UK’s largest nuclear research facility for the conduct of radioactive experiments.

    This studentship is offered as part of the “Growing skills for Reliable Economic Energy from Nuclear” (GREEN) Centre for Doctoral Training (https://www.nuclear-energy-cdt.manchester.ac.uk/), a collaboration between the Universities of Lancaster, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield. GREEN aims to develop and deliver the research and skills required to address key challenges in the field of nuclear energy across the entire fuel cycle.

     

    Application procedure:  To apply, send a copy of your CV to Professor Colin Boxall, Engineering Department, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YR, or by email to c.boxall@lancaster.ac.uk. Informal enquiries to this address are also very welcome.

    Closing date for applications: 10th August 2020

     

  • Fully-funded PhD Studentship in The Radiolysis of Water over Plutonium Oxide: The Mystery of the Disappearing Oxygen

    PHD – Funded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) at iCASE level for 4 years

    Approximately 138 tonnes of separated Pu is in long term storage at Sellafield as PuO2 powder in nested, sealed steel storage cans. Under certain circumstances, gas generation may occur with consequent storage package pressurisation. In practice, this is rarely seen and empirically derived criteria are used to account for this gas release and so ensure safe storage conditions. The purpose of this proposed PhD project is to contribute to a fundamental understanding of the factors influencing the empirical criteria.

    There are a number of fundamental mechanisms that could lead to pressurisation, and all must be understood. The 5 main routes suggested are:

    (i)     Helium accumulation from α decay;

    (ii)    Decomposition of polymeric packing material;

    (iii)   Steam produced by H2O desorption from hygroscopic PuO2 due to self-heating or loss of cooling in stores;

    (iv)   Radiolysis of adsorbed water to generate gaseous hydrogen and oxygen; and,

    (v)    Generation of H2 by a postulated (hydrothermal) chemical reaction of PuO2 with H2O.

    The scope for this PhD is focussed on mechanisms (iv) and (v).

    Small scale studies of PuO2 packages suggest that gaseous hydrogen and oxygen may be formed in such packages. However, these studies also found that the pressure is limited by a H2/O2 recombination process. This may be through a recombination process of hydrogen and oxygen and could be thermally or radiolytically driven processes. Experience has also shown that cans sealed under non-ideal conditions can have headspace atmospheres that,  as expected, contain hydrogen but, mysteriously, contain little to no oxygen.

    Preliminary studies indicate that irradiation of gas phase mixtures of hydrogen and oxygen with helium ions or gamma rays can lead to loss of hydrogen, presumably through radiation-induced reaction with oxygen to form water. This loss of hydrogen is found to be accelerated by the presence of zirconium and cerium oxides. The potential role of metal oxide surfaces in promoting this reaction is not clear.

    If the hydrogen is produced primarily by the radiolysis of water the comparative absence of oxygen in the can headspace raises questions as to whether this is due to the formation of a suggested PuO2+x phase or some other oxidative process or H2/O2 recombination. Recombination, with or without PuO2 acting as a catalyst, could prevent the coincident observation of the two gases and limit the extent of package pressurisation, but not fully explain why a number of packages have been shown to contain hydrogen with oxygen being mysteriously absent.

    Thus, questions arise as to whether this putative recombination catalysis exists on PuO2 and the fate of the oxygen. Sellafield Ltd have started a programme of work at NNL to investigate this. The proposed PhD, which will involve a significant period of placement at NNL’s Central Laboratory, will be working to address these questions.

    Preliminary work at Lancaster will focus on the development of methods for on-line sampling of both hydrogen and oxygen and potentially other species as a function of T, P, water content, dose rate, specific surface area, co-adsorbed species etc. during recombination / catalytic reaction studies. The student will then work alongside NNL to further the understanding of the efficacy of PuO2 as a catalyst, and understand dependencies of the composition of the gas-phase on the surface activity of the metal oxide.

    The project is intellectually challenging and involves well-integrated elements of chemistry, engineering and materials science. The successful applicant will become familiar with techniques needed to tackle major problems in the nuclear industry and be part of a well-established team of nuclear researchers within Lancaster’s Engineering Department that seeks to address industrial problems while maintaining a strong science and technology base.

    The appointee will interact with both Sellafield Ltd and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), the UK’s largest nuclear research facility for the conduct of radioactive experiments. There will be a substantial period of placement at the NNL’s Central Laboratory in Cumbria.

    Application procedure:  To apply, send a copy of your CV to Professor Colin Boxall, Engineering Department, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YR, or by email to c.boxall@lancaster.ac.uk. Informal enquiries to this address are also very welcome.

    Closing date for applications: 8th August 2020

  • Fully Funded PhD Studentship: Advanced Control Systems for Intelligent Coordination of Manipulation and Grasping in Nuclear Robotics

    Supervisor

    Dr Allahyar Montazeri

    Description

    A fully-funded PhD studentship is available for an outstanding graduate with specific interest on robotics, control as well as image processing techniques. The project is in close collaboration with the industry partner to develop a novel advanced control system for intelligent coordination of hand and eye in a hydraulic nuclear manipulator. The main objective is to develop a system that addresses the inherent uncertainty in the nuclear industry case study environments for applications such as welding, pipe cutting and material discrimination. Engineering research at Lancaster University has been rated as world-leading in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) and you will join a dedicated team of scientists working on a range of exciting topics in robotics.

    Increasing the autonomy of nuclear robots is one of the key factors to improve decommissioning performance and reduce the dependency of the remotely controlled system by the human operator. This is due to the complex manipulation capabilities that require the robot to interact with objects and environment forcefully by pushing, cutting, shearing, grinding in addition to easier pick-and-place tasks.

    In this project, we address the above-mentioned challenges by design and development an advanced control system which combines the information from the smart end-effector tool with the control system designed for the manipulator for a coordinated and intelligent grasping and manipulation.

    The system that will be developed in this research consists of two major subsystems. The end-effector subsystem which includes the hardware and algorithms designed to recognise the material of the object aimed for grasping and the manipulation subsystem which consists of a vision system combined with a novel multivariable control system resulting in a high precision visual-serving system.

    Although the size and shape of the object are identified by the camera in the manipulator subsystem, the material is recognized through the end-effector subsystem. The approach here is to propose a multi-modal sensing system by using various sensors in the end-effector tool. It is envisaged to achieve a fast and accurate classification rate for a range of materials by fusing these measurements using iterative machine learning algorithms. Combining this information with the vision system in the manipulation subsystem generates the desired force for interaction with the object. Furthermore, the vision system is used to identify the position of the end-effector and move the arm towards the object. This is carried out by further investigating the advanced control system developed for this purpose to improve its performance and combine it with the visual information provided by the camera in real-time.

    Application Details

    Potential candidates for this position are expected to have the following qualifications:

    • Should have or expect to achieve a first-class or upper second-class degree in Engineering at the level of MSc, MEng, etc or a lower second with a good Master's, (or overseas equivalents) in a relevant subject.

    • The funding is available for UK/EU students; however, international students could also apply under circumstances.

    • Sufficient background on control theory, image processing or a closely related discipline.

    • Practical experiences on the implementation of the control algorithms.

    • Computer programming skills such as MATLAB are essential for the post.

    • You should have excellent interpersonal skills, work effectively in a team and have experience of the preparation of presentations, reports or journal papers to the highest levels of quality.

    • The suitable candidate should also have been resident in the UK for at least 4 years immediately before taking up the position.

    Eligibility Criteria

    A full standard studentship consists of tuition fees, together with a maintenance grant and research training support. The funding is for 3.5 years and will pay a stipend that is £2K above the standard UKRC rate.

    To declare your interest and get further information about the application procedure, please send a copy of your CV along with the cover letter to Dr Allahyar Montazeri.

    The formal application should be made via the Lancaster University online portal once it is reviewed and considered for the position.

Greater Innovation for Smarter Materials Optimisation (GISMO) PhDs

The Materials Science Institute, based at Lancaster University is an interdisciplinary institute tackling grand challenges in society and industry. The Institute has 9 fully-funded 3 year PhD studentships available to start in October 2020. The studentships are part of the £4.4m Greater Innovation for Smarter Materials Optimisation (GISMO) Project. GISMO is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and will engage over 250 innovative SMEs in the Cheshire and Warrington area, in the chemicals, aerospace, automotive, energy, applied healthcare, and life sciences sectors, solving industry-driven challenges through innovations in 'smart' materials.

Accordion

  • Design, manufacture and evaluation of novel hybrid metallic structures manufactured by multi-material 3D printing

    Launch your career in R&D with an industry-based three year funded PhD in new materials science making novel structures using 3D Printing

    3D Printing has the potential to make massive environmental impacts, revolutionizing mass manufacturing, changing medicine and healthcare, transforming the home, and reaching disconnected markets worldwide.

    The PhD will use the latest dual-feed laser deposition process to create hybrid structures composed of different materials (for example metal-metal and metal-ceramic). The unique process combines the ability to use wire and powder feed to deposit different materials in different locations within a 3D build.  You will develop an understanding of how to design novel hybrid (smart) structures, control the process to achieve the target designs and verify their performance through simple physical and mechanical evaluations.  Designs will be informed in partnership with industry.

    Requirements

    Minimum of Upper Second Class MEng (Hons) or MSc in Mechanical / Manufacturing / Materials Engineering or similar technical discipline.

    Why Apply?

    • Join a cohort of 9 PhDs and work in an exciting community of like-minded peers
    • Work directly with leading industry partners
    • Be mentored by internationally recognised researcher leaders
    • Work across various fields of materials science and gain extensive topic-specific training
    • Gain experience of modelling and problem solving for scientific and industrial applications
    • Help develop new products, processes and services
    • Build academic and industrial networks and have both a scientific and industrial impact with your research
    • Receive an enhanced stiped rate of £19,750 for two years then £17,600 for the final year
    • Gain a postgraduate qualification from a world-class university
    • Finish in a strong position to enter a competitive job market

    Funding

    The studentship for UK /EU citizens is fully funded with the first two years at an enhanced stiped rate of £19,750 and £17,600 in the final year of study.

    Application details

    To apply for this opportunity please apply by email to gismo@lancaster.ac.uk with the subject “GISMO:  Novel Hybrid Metallic Structures” and include:

    • A CV (2 pages maximum)
    • Cover letter
    • Contact details for 2 references
    • University grade transcripts

    Early submissions are encouraged.

    Contact Us

    For informal enquiries, applicants should contact Professor Andrew Kennedy in the Engineering Department.

  • Scalable methods for functionalisation of 2D materials for quantum security and green energy applications

    Launch your career in R&D with an industry-based three year funded PhD in new materials science, using quantum nanotechnology to develop new film materials

    Quantum nanotechnology is the exploitation and application of unique quantum effects which occur in very small structures such as enhanced optical emission, or quantised electrical or thermal transport. In most structures, practical quantum-enhanced effects are difficult to access due to either their size or temperature dependence.

    The aim of the project is to define the design parameters for a new class of highly functional quantum-enhanced thin-film materials which can operate in a wide variety of real-world environments. Comprising chemically functionalised 2-dimensional materials (2DM) such as graphene and transition metal dichalcogenides, these materials have applications such as thermoelectric energy generation or unique optical identities. This research project is part of a suite of industry-focused Materials Science Institute projects at Lancaster University.

    The project is predominately practical experimental work and will utilise the Physics Department’s nanomaterials fabrication capabilities and a world-class suite of characterisation facilities including the ultralow-noise IsoLab. Working with colleagues from chemistry, quantum theory, and industry partners you develop a new paradigm for the formation of ultrathin, flexible heterostructures by combining the chemistry of single-molecular electroactive systems and scalable deposition of 2DM.

    Requirements

    This is a highly interdisciplinary project operating at the interface of Physics, Chemistry and device engineering. The successful PhD candidate will demonstrate an excellent academic record in physics, materials science or a related area. Knowledge of nanomaterials or experience in either quantum transport, scanning probe microscopy and/or self-assembly of organic monolayers would be advantageous but not compulsory as full training in a wide variety of techniques will be given. The candidate is expected to successfully work as part of a team, with good inter-personal skills and to successfully complete research projects suitable for the award of a PhD in physics including publications in high impact peer-reviewed articles.

    Why Apply?

    • Join a cohort of 9 PhDs and work in an exciting community of like-minded peers
    • Work directly with leading industry partners
    • Be mentored by internationally recognised researcher leaders
    • Work across various fields of materials science and gain extensive topic-specific training
    • Gain experience of modelling and problem solving for scientific and industrial applications
    • Help develop new products, processes and services
    • Build academic and industrial networks and have both a scientific and industrial impact with your research
    • Receive an enhanced stiped rate of £19,750 for two years then £17,600 for the final year
    • Gain a postgraduate qualification from a world-class university
    • Finish in a strong position to enter a competitive job market

    Funding

    The studentship for UK /EU citizens is fully funded with the first two years at an enhanced stiped rate of £19,750 and £17,600 in the final year of study.

    Application details

    To apply for this opportunity please apply by email to gismo@lancaster.ac.uk with the subject “GISMO: Functionalisation of 2D materials ” and include:

    • A CV (2 pages maximum)
    • Cover letter
    • Contact details for 2 references
    • University grade transcripts

    Early submissions are encouraged.

    Contact Us

    For informal enquiries, applicants should contact Dr Ben Robinson or Professor Robert Young in the Physics Department.

  • Understanding Biofilms: Plasma polymer coatings to control/ prevent biofilm formation and understanding the chemical pathway to their formation by spectroscopy

    Launch your career in R&D with an industry-based three year funded PhD in new materials science, researching biofilms for healthcare.

    Management of biofilms is critical for healthcare. In the context of severe burns, microbes are life-threatening, and with the rise of superbugs ie bugs that can resist antibiotics (known as antimicrobial resistance, AMR), novel approaches are required to prevent biofilms forming.

    The first component of this PhD project is to further our understanding of the chemical pathways of biofilm formation and their contribution to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) development.  Biofilms are a structured consortium of microbial cells encased in a matrix of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). As no current antimicrobial therapy can eradicate mature biofilms, it is therefore critical to know how these biofilms form – in order to develop strategies to prevent formation.

    A second objective, based upon the above, is to fabricate novel surface coatings that can resist biofilm formation.  The principal method for making coatings will be by a plasma (electrically-excited gas) technique. These films, known as plasma polymers, will either release nitric oxide (a key signalling molecule implicated in dispersing biofilms) or films that mimic nitric oxide.

    It is known that the strength of microbe adhesion is affected by surface roughness and by surface topographical features. We will, therefore, attempt to design topography into coatings. Nano and microscale features, such as micropillars, will be achieved through a range of chemical and physical techniques such as chemical and plasma etching and advanced manufacturing techniques including laser ablation and additive manufacturing. The topographies will be assessed using a new confocal microscope and SEM. The adhesion will be measured using pull-off and peel tests on biofilms and coatings using mechanical testers and bespoke rigs.

    Ultimately the project will provide novel coatings that can be applied to a wide range of materials, that would eventually include wound dressings in critical environments (e.g. in severe burns, operating theatres etc.) where infection must be avoided. Plasma coating will be achieved in an RF barrel reactor that the PhD will build and learn how to operate. The coatings will be analysed using the recent purchased £700,000 x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. In addition, Infrared and Raman micro-spectroscopy - combined with chemometric analysis will be used to understand the dynamics of EPS accumulation in biofilms in a 3D construct.

    Requirements

    This PhD position will suit candidates with a background in Engineering, Chemistry or Materials Science.

    Why Apply?

    • Join a cohort of 9 PhDs and work in an exciting community of like-minded peers
    • Work directly with leading industry partners
    • Be mentored by internationally recognised researcher leaders
    • Work across various fields of materials science and gain extensive topic-specific training
    • Gain experience of modelling and problem solving for scientific and industrial applications
    • Help develop new products, processes and services
    • Build academic and industrial networks and have both a scientific and industrial impact with your research
    • Receive an enhanced stiped rate of £19,750 for two years then £17,600 for the final year
    • Gain a postgraduate qualification from a world-class university
    • Finish in a strong position to enter a competitive job market

    Funding

    The studentship for UK /EU citizens is fully funded with the first two years at an enhanced stiped rate of £19,750 and £17,600 in the final year of study.

    Application details

    To apply for this opportunity please apply by email to gismo@lancaster.ac.uk with the subject “GISMO:  Understanding Biofilms” and include:

    • A CV (2 pages maximum)
    • Cover letter
    • Contact details for 2 references
    • University grade transcripts

    Closing Date

    Early submissions are encouraged.

    Contact Us

    For informal enquiries, applicants should contact Professor Ihtesham Rehman or Dr David Cheneler in the Engineering Department.

  • Design of novel alloys and microstructures for additive manufacturing

    Launch your career in R&D with an industry-based three year funded PhD in new materials science designing new alloys

    There is a growing need from industry for developing new materials for additive manufacturing/3D Printing. Through this PhD project, you will explore the ability to compositionally tailor alloys for additive manufacturing, with a focus on powder bed laser technologies. Thermodynamic and kinetic principles will be employed to design alloys, which will subsequently be produced and processed. Applications aimed for include high-temperature alloys for aerospace, ultra-strong steels for tooling, medical implants and nuclear applications.

    Testing of novel components will include mechanical, corrosion and fatigue. The newly designed alloys and their build will thus be compared with wrought counterparts, and the technology transferred to members of our regional consortium.

    Requirements

    The minimum academic requirement for admission is an upper second class UK honours degree at the level of MSci, MEng, MPhys, MChem etc, or a lower second with a good Master's, (or overseas equivalents) in a relevant subject. Background in thermokinetics and physical metallurgy is required.

    Knowledge in crystal plasticity and dislocation theory is preferred. A good basis in computer programming is essential for the post. Excellent oral and written communication skills with the ability to prepare presentations, reports and journal papers to the highest levels of quality. Excellent interpersonal skill to work effectively in a multi-disciplinary project area of research.

    Why Apply?

    • Join a cohort of 9 PhDs and work in an exciting community of like-minded peers
    • Work directly with leading industry partners
    • Be mentored by internationally recognised researcher leaders
    • Work across various fields of materials science and gain extensive topic-specific training
    • Gain experience of modelling and problem solving for scientific and industrial applications
    • Help develop new products, processes and services
    • Build academic and industrial networks and have both a scientific and industrial impact with your research
    • Receive an enhanced stiped rate of £19,750 for two years then £17,600 for the final year
    • Gain a postgraduate qualification from a world-class university
    • Finish in a strong position to enter a competitive job market

    Funding

    The studentship for UK/EU citizens is fully funded with the first two years at an enhanced stiped rate of £19,750 and £17,600 in the final year of study.

    Application details

    To apply for this opportunity please apply by email to gismo@lancaster.ac.uk with the subject “GISMO: Novel Alloys and Microstructures” and include:

    • A CV (2 pages maximum)
    • Cover letter
    • Contact details for 2 references
    • University grade transcripts

    Early submissions are encouraged.

    Contact Us

    For informal enquiries, applicants should contact Professor Pedro Rivera in the Engineering Department.

How to apply

Step 1

To register your interest in a PhD opportunity, please email the relevant project supervisor with your contact details and a comprehensive CV. Please also include a covering letter, if requested in the advert details.

Step 2

The project supervisor will contact you and may invite you to hold a Skype or telephone interview. At this stage, you can apply for more than one advertised project if you wish.

Step 3

If you are successful at interview for the studentship, you will be invited to apply via the admissions portal online. This will ensure that you receive a formal offer of admission. Please submit one application only, and state the studentship that you have applied for in the source of funding section.

Step 4

Once we have made a formal offer, you will need to check the conditions in your offer letter and supply any outstanding documents by the required deadlines. If your offer is unconditional, then this will not apply to you.