PhD Studentship in numerical modelling of carbon nanotube aerogel formation

University of Cambridge - Department of Engineering

Individual carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have extremely high electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and yield strength. We have developed a technique to convert natural gas into a cloud of interlocked CNTs, known as an aerogel, which can then be drawn out as a fibre. This fibre could be stronger than steel, more flexible than carbon fibre, and more conducting than copper. If we can scale up the process, it will change the world.

This project will deal with three aspects of CNT fibre formation, which need to be modelled accurately in order to scale up the process: (i) aerogel formation in a furnace, (ii) aerogel behaviour in the furnace, (iii) aerogel manipulation by the flow outside the furnace. Models will be developed in a finite element numerical platform and Precision Learning techniques, pioneered by this group, will be applied to develop the model. Sensitivities to model parameters will be calculated rapidly using adjoint methods. This will identify the most influential model parameters and inform experiments performed by another team, which will run in parallel with the modelling efforts. The final stage of the project will be to use the numerical model and its sensitivities to iterate towards an optimal design of a CNT furnace. 

Applicants should have an excellent academic track record in a scientific, mathematical, or engineering discipline, with at least a high 2i degree, or equivalent. Some experience of object-oriented programming (e.g. Python) would be an advantage but is not essential.

Full funding, fees and maintenance, is available only to UK and EU students. Overseas (non-EU) students are not eligible for this award.

Further information is available:

To apply, please complete form CHRIS/6 (cover sheet for C.V.s) available at and send it with your C.V. and a covering letter to Matthew Juniper ( to arrive no later than 28 Feb 2017.

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

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South East England