PhD Studentship: Novel Structured Nanocomposite Materials For Broadband Acoustic Damping In Automotive Environments

University of Warwick - Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG)

Supervisors: Dr Claire Dancer, Professor Tony McNally

Industrial sponsor: Jaguar Land Rover

Start date: October 2017

Project overview: 

This project is an exciting opportunity to carry out cutting-edge scientific research in materials engineering, with a strong focus on application in the automotive sector through the support from Jaguar Land Rover. The successful candidate will develop unique expertise in developing functional ceramic-polymer nanocomposite materials for acoustic damping applications.

Noise is a major factor in our day-to-day experience of using automotive vehicles, yet the current drive towards light-weighting precludes the use of many effective traditional solutions as they rely on the use of bulky, heavy materials to dampen acoustic vibrations. Vehicular and road noise originates from many sources and the options for attaching damping materials to a vehicle are limited. This means that as well as being lightweight and able to be incorporated into existing structural components, damping materials must be effective over a broadband of sound frequencies to truly control the acoustic environment.

In this project, materials based on lightweight polymer-ceramic nanocomposites with tailored microstructures will be developed in order to optimise acoustic absorption by a fundamentally different mechanism to existing industrial solutions. Efficient acoustic damping materials absorb the energy of the sound wave and convert it into thermal energy. Lightweight, viscoelastic materials such as polyurethane can perform this conversion directly, however as pure materials they have insufficient acoustic damping properties, particularly at low frequencies. Piezoelectric ceramic materials can also dampen sound waves as the wave energy first acts to create a charge dipole within the piezoelectric material, thus converting the sound energy to stored capacitance (electric energy), before this energy is then converted to a thermal energy over a short time as the electric charges recombine.

Piezoelectric ceramics will be combined with widely used polymers to produce nanocomposite materials suitable for acoustic damping over a broad range of frequencies. The material formulations will be designed to be readily applied to surfaces by dip coating, spraying, or painting. Materials will be characterised by a range of microscopic and spectroscopic techniques to establish optimal material properties. The most promising materials will be subjected to further testing, such as measurement of acoustic transmission, to establish their acoustic properties across broadband frequencies, and the performance compared to existing technologies in use.

This project is supervised by leading researchers in the International Institute for Nanocomposites Manufacturing (IINM) at WMG, University of Warwick. Facilities in the IINM include state-of-the-art facilities for polymer-ceramic composite processing, including a wide range of extrusion equipment. Characterisation facilities both in IINM and across the university include electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction, Raman micro-spectroscopy, thermal analysis, and mechanical testing. The successful candidate will acquire wide-ranging skills in processing and characterising polymer-ceramic composite materials, as well as detailed understanding of the testing of acoustic properties of materials.


This position provides a tax free stipend for UK/EU nationals of £14,000 plus £3,000 industrial top up, per annum, and all fees paid are paid for up to four years.


Applicants should have or expect a first class honours or good upper second class degree (or an equivalent) in Materials Science/Engineering, Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, or a related subject with a materials component.

Application Details:

For informal inquiries about the project please contact Dr Claire Dancer by email at

To apply please complete our online enquiry form

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Midlands of England