Research Studentship: Coherent X-ray Imaging of Crystal Defects

University of Oxford - EPSRC Industrial CASE Studentship with Jaguar Land Rover

3.5-Year DPhil Studentship

Supervisor: Prof Felix Hofmann

Research Summary

We are seeking a DPhil student to join the Hofmann group at the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, as part of the European Research Council funded project “AtoFun”.

Atomic scale defects, such as dislocations, play a central role in determining the physical and mechanical properties of crystalline materials. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) revolutionised the study of dislocations by making it possible to see them. To better understand how dislocations interact and how their behaviour might be tailored, tools for probing the 3D strain fields they cause are urgently needed. Measuring these complex nano-scale distortions of the crystal lattice is a monumental challenge.

Coherent synchrotron X-ray diffraction is an emerging technique that holds great promise for tackling this challenge. The goal of this DPhil studentship is to develop new coherent X-ray diffraction approaches for probing specific dislocations. These methods will be tested on semiconductor and metal systems to shed light on the complex 3D strain fields in dislocation structures. Using insitu measurements you will explore how defect strain fields can be manipulated and engineered to change material properties. These exciting experiments will be combined with multi-scale simulations, developed by collaborators, that seek to capture the fundamental link between atomic-scale defects and material properties.

This project will be supervised by Prof Felix Hofmann at the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, UK. There will be strong synergies with other projects in the Hofmann group, for example the development of TEM techniques for characterising atomic scale defects, and the development of tools for probing micro-scale mechanical and physical material properties. Prof Hofmann’s research team is part of the Solid Mechanics and Materials Engineering Group (SMMEG) in the Department of Engineering Science and the Materials for Fission and Fusion Power (MFFP) group in the Department of Materials. Further information about Prof Hofmann’s research can be found at and additional details about the Solid Mechanics Group in the Department of Engineering Science are available at

Award Value

The value of the studentship is £22,000 per year. The student will be responsible for covering the cost of university and college fees (


This studentship is open to all applicants.

Candidate Requirements

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

  • Excellent degree in Engineering, Material Science, Physics, or another relevant discipline;
  • Excellent analytical skills;
  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills;
  • Willingness to spend several weeks per year travelling to international collaborators and science facilities for experimental work (expenses will be covered).

The following skills are desirable:

  • Ability to program in Matlab;
  • Knowledge of optics;
  • Knowledge of microscopy;
  • Knowledge of material defect modelling.

Application Procedure

Informal enquiries are encouraged and should be addressed to Prof Felix Hofmann (

Candidates must submit a graduate application form and are expected to meet the graduate admissions criteria.  Details are available on the course page of the University website.

Please quote 18ENGIN_09FH in all correspondence and in your graduate application.

Application deadline:  noon on 19 January 2018 

Start date: October 2018

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