PhD Studentship in Modelling of Microstructure Sensitive Short Crack Growth in Gas Turbine Alloys

Imperial College London - Department of Materials

Supervisor: Prof FPE Dunne (Imperial College), Dr DW MacLachlan (Royal Society, Rolls-Royce plc)

Short Crack Growth (SCG) in metals and alloys refers to the process of crack growth from nucleation of a small crack approximately the size of a single grain, up to the size of some tens of grains, typically for instance 100 to 200 microns. This process of SCG is very dependent on the local microstructure and is one of the significant unknown quantities in determining the useful service life of aero-engine components. In this research project new methods for modelling the growth of short cracks in advanced nickel based superalloys will be developed. The project will combine modelling individual grains using the crystal plasticity finite element method (CPFEM) with explicit modelling of crack growth using the eXtended Finite Element Method (XFEM). Micro-mechanical parameters that are affected by the materials local microstructure such as the stored elastic energy will be used to attempt to quantify SCG. A considerable program of academic work will be required to undertake the project. State of the art modelling and characterisation methods will be used to understand many key issues such as the effect of grains, grain orientations and grain boundaries on crack growth rates, crack branching and crack arrest. Remote loading and localised elastic and plastic deformation and stress redistribution will also be considered. This project will link the scientific ability to predict crack nucleation life (ie cracks of the order of microns in size) with the industrial requirement to predict the life to generate macroscopic cracks (from approx 0.1 to 0.2 mm).

This project is highly industrially relevant and is an excellent opportunity for a student looking for exposure to an industrial environment where there will be opportunity to apply academic methods to real world commercial problems. The project will be based primarily in Imperial College London with placements in Rolls-Royce plc to test and use models in an industrial context.
This studentship covers university fees and stipend to the UK fee level only, ie that applicable to UK/EU nationals. Pre-requisites are a 2.i or higher in a mechanical engineering, physical science, materials or related degree. A strong aptitude for programming, mechanics and micro-mechanics as well as enthusiasm for problem solving is highly desirable.

This studentship is currently open for applications via the Imperial College online graduate student admissions pages ( please specify the application is for a PhD in the Department of Materials with Professor Dunne and Dr MacLachlan). The start date is on or before 30th October 2018. For further details, please contact Prof Fionn Dunne, or Duncan MacLachlan,

Closing date: 31st May 2018

For questions regarding the admissions process, please contact Mrs Fiona Thomson ( while information about the Department can be found at

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