EPSRC CDT in Metamaterials (PhD studentship): 3D graded nanocomposites Ref: 2854

About the award

The studentship is part of the UK’s Centre of Doctoral Training in Metamaterials (XM2) based in the Departments of Physics and Engineering on the Streatham Campus in Exeter.  Its aim is to undertake world-leading research, while training scientists and engineers with the relevant research skills and knowledge, and professional attributes for industry and academia.

XM2 studentships are of value around £90,000, which includes £11,000 towards the research project (travel, consumables, equipment etc.), tuition fees, and an annual, tax-free stipend of approximately £14,500 per year for UK/EU students.

Exeter has a well-established and strong track record of relevant research, and prospective students can consider projects from a wide variety of fields:

  • Acoustic and Fluid-dynamical Metamaterials
  • Biological and Bio-inspired Metamaterials
  • Graphene and other 2D Materials, and related Devices
  • Magnonics, Spintronics and Magnetic Metamaterials
  • Microwave Metamaterials
  • Nanomaterials and Nanocomposites
  • Optical, Infra-red and THz Photonics and Plasmonics
  • Quantum Metamaterials
  • Wave Theory and Spatial Transformations

Please visit www.exeter.ac.uk/metamaterials to learn more about our centre and see the full list of projects that we have on offer this year.

Sponsor requirements limit this studentship to UK-nationals only.

Statement of Research

Joint supervisors: Prof Oana Ghita, Prof Monica Craciun

External supervisors: Dr Wai Lee

Industry partner: assigned

This project is looking to explore fabrication of 3D nanocomposite multi-layered structures and their properties. The project will initially use graphene but will explore incorporation of other 2D materials ranging from highly conductive to insulating materials. The multi-layers will be achieved by combining the 3D printing deposition methods with the spraying method applied currently for application of graphene over large areas.  The graphene/PEEK filaments used for 3D printing will include different loadings of graphene and will be deposited using different printing strategies.  These layers will be combined with pure graphene layers or other 2D materials, hence varying properties across a complex structure. The properties of these structures will be examined from molecular/nano-scale to macro-scale; investigating the polymer-graphene interactions, changes in crystal structure induced by the presence of the nanomaterials, layer to layer adhesion (especially when involving plain graphene layer to graphene/PEEK layer).  The presence of the polymer within the structure will allow structural integrity of the device in the same time maintaining its lightweight characteristics. In addition, PEEK is a high temperature polymer (processed at 400°C) operating continuously above 250°C temperature, with a performance superior to the type of polymers currently experimented with in combination with graphene (PLA or PA6). 
Such combined printing concepts and multi-layered graded structures do not exist.  The applications could expand well beyond wave absorbers leading to development of armour lightweight composites and new 2D devises.

The project has many challenges: from ways of combining the two deposition methods to potential issues with porosity within the printed structure, which could affect performance.  The successful candidate will have good material science knowledge and nanomaterials understanding with a good engineering background.  The PhD student will work in the Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing lab and the Graphene labs.

About XM2

Metamaterials are fabricated microstructures having properties beyond those found in nature. They are an important new class of electromagnetic and acoustic materials with applications in many technology areas: energy storage and improved efficiency, imaging, communications, sensing and the much-hyped ‘cloaking’. Having recruited nearly 70 new PhD researchers in its first four years, the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (XM2) hosted by the University of Exeter (www.exeter.ac.uk/metamaterials) will admit its fifth cohort of PhD students in September 2018.

The first year of the studentship includes an assessed, stand alone project, and a substantial programme of training. Students will choose from a wide range of taught modules, and participate in academic and personal development skills-based workshops, together with creativity events and conference-style meetings. The cohort will also be expected to disseminate their results to the international community via high-impact publications and international conferences. They will spend time working with our academic and industrial partners.  Full details of the programme are available here, or download a copy of our prospectus.

The University of Exeter combines world class research with excellent student satisfaction. It is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive universities. Formed in 1955, the University has over 20,000 students from more than 130 different countries. Its success is built on a strong partnership with its students and a clear focus on high performance. Recent breakthroughs to come out of Exeter's research include the identification and treatment of new forms of diabetes and the creation of the world's most transparent, lightweight and flexible conductor of electricity. Exeter is ranked amongst the UK’s top 10 universities in the Higher Education league tables produced by the Times and the Sunday Times. It is also ranked amongst the world’s top 200 universities in the QS and Times Higher Education rankings.

Summary

Application deadline:31st January 2018
Number of awards:1
Value:Approximately £90,000, including research and travel budget, tuition fees and stipend (approximately [£14,500/£16,500] payable to UK or EU students only)
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Prof. Alastair Hibbins (Admissions Tutor)metamaterials@exeter.ac.uk

How to apply

Application criteria

During the application process you will need to upload the documents listed below. Please prepare these before starting the application process.

  • A statement describing why you would like to study for a PhD in Physics or Engineering,
  • A statement describing why you are considering a PhD programme that offers a cohort-based doctoral training model,
  • An academic CV,
  • A cover letter that discusses your preferred area(s) of study and/or your interest in a particular project/supervisor,
  • A document outlining your research interests and any relevant expertise,
  • Degree transcript(s) giving information about the qualification awarded, the modules taken during the study period, and the marks for each module taken,
  • The contact details of two academic referees.

Please note that of all the projects advertised we expect, as a Centre, to fill 15-20 posts only.

Shortlisting and interviews

Applications will be reviewed by members of the XM2 management board and candidates will be short-listed against a set of agreed criteria to ensure quality while maintaining diversity. Failure to include all the the elements above may result in rejection. Criteria will include:

ESSENTIAL

  • Excellence in a lower degree in a relevant discipline;
  • Excellence in written and oral skills in English;
  • Evidence of knowledge of XM2 ethos, research themes and/or supervisors.

DESIRABLE

  • Specialist knowledge about one or more XM2 topics;
  • Research outputs (e.g. papers) and/or has undertaken training in research methodology (e.g. undergraduate research projects);
  • Ability to work collaboratively

Short-listed candidates will be interviewed by a panel of two academic members of staff drawn from the management board. If successful, a second interview will be undertaken by the potential academic supervisors for the student concerned. Offers are normally made shortly after a successful second interview.