EPSRC CDT in Metamaterials (PhD Studentship): 3D Graded Nanocomposites

University of Exeter - Departments of Physics and Engineering

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.

This studentship is part of the Centre of Doctoral Training in Metamaterials. Please see all fully funded opportunities.

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