PhD Studentship: Reducing Risk through Uncertainty Quantification for Past, Present and Future Generations of Nuclear Power Plants

University of Bristol - School of Civil, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

The project:

Set in The University of Bristol’s solid mechanics group, this project uses a multi-scale, multi-technique approach to investigate the behaviour of vital engineering materials:

  • silicon ceramics used for the containment of historic nuclear waste
  • graphite used for moderating reactions in the current generation of nuclear plant
  • beryllium and tungsten used to line containment vessels for future fusion generation.

By combining high-performance computer models with imaging analysis, you will build a deeper understanding of the mechanical behaviour of the materials under investigation exposed to complex deformation and fracture.

The experimental elements of the programme, using x-ray tomography to create 3D images of strain and damage inside samples and Digital Image Correlation to track real-time crack propagation, is combined with high-fidelity cellular automata finite element models developed in a parallel project. The combined modelling and experimental programme will provide new insight into the behaviour of these critical materials.

The project will draw from the strengths of the interdisciplinary team to develop experts of the future. Along with rigorous error analysis, you will follow an approach that is transferable across length scales, enabling the tracking of fundamental physical mechanisms through to engineering application.

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at Please select <Mechanical Engineering> on the Programme Choice page. You will be prompted to enter details of the studentship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form together with the name of the supervisor Dr Anton Shterenlikht.

Candidate requirements: 

Candidates should have either a 1st or a good 2:1 degree in mechanical engineering, physics, material science or a related discipline.

Basic skills and knowledge required:

Good understanding of solid mechanics fundamentals: stress and strain tensors, strain rate, conservation laws, basic engineering fracture mechanics, good knowledge of calculus, including tensor calculus, good understanding of properties and mechanics of materials, including elasticity, plasticity, fatigue, good experimental practice and interest in experiment design and data analysis, good written and spoken English and report writing skills.


Scholarship covers full UK/EU (EU applicants who have been resident in the UK for 3 years prior to 1st September 2018) tuition fees and a tax-free annual stipend at the current RCUK rate. (£14,553 in 2017-18). EU nationals resident in the EU will qualify only for PhD tuition fees.


For informal enquiries please contact Dr Mahmoud Mostafavi (
For general enquiries please email

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South West England