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PhD Studentship - Validation of a Micro-finite-element Model for Contact-induced Stresses at Bone Joints

University of Sheffield

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Sheffield
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 4th December 2018
Closes: 30th January 2019

Supervisor: Dr Pinaki Bhattacharya

Are you a bright, enthusiastic and self-motivated student interested in a PhD in biomechanics? A position is now available at the Integrated Musculo-Skeletal Biomechanics (IMSB) group in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield.

The research group is part of the Insigneo Institute for in silico Medicine. The group has extensive experience in the development of computer simulations to better understand the biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system.

Contact occurs everywhere in musculoskeletal biomechanics, most notably at bone joints, where contact-induced stresses determine both fracture risk and joint disease progression. The development of accurate finite-element (FE) models for predicting contact-induced stresses is hindered by high costs of pre-processing (e.g. tetrahedral mesh generation) and analysis. Both challenges can be overcome using micro-finite-element (uFE) models, which involve minimal pre-processing and are supported by specialised, highly-efficient, parallelized solvers (e.g. ParOSol, However, the use of uFE models in contact problems has remained impeded, until recently, by the lack of an accurate contact formulation. In 2018, Bhattacharya et al. showed that a novel contact formulation (SS-SC) can reduce error in contact-induced stress prediction in uFE models from 42% to 2% ( Yet, this approach is yet to be implemented in a specialised uFE solver and the predictions need to be tested against experimental measurements.

The aims of the proposed PhD project are: to implement the SS-SC formulation in a uFE solver; to predict contact-induced stresses in the wrist joint using the enriched solver; and to perform cadaver experiments to validate model predictions.

This combined computational–experimental study will leverage collaborations with ETH Zürich, Switzerland and KU Leuven, Belgium. The development of an accurate contact-analysis capability will lead to many new applications of the uFE technique, even to problems beyond bone joint biomechanics. Widespread joint-diseases, such as osteoarthritis, are strongly influenced by bone joint biomechanics. Thus, the technology developed in the proposed project will be a game-changer in terms of enabling the testing of novel scientific hypotheses for joint diseases in general. The wrist-joint application will provide a specific test-bed to showcase the impact of this research.

Candidate Profile

The successful candidate should have or be expected to obtain a 1st class or a good 2.1 degree in mechanical engineering, bioengineering, computer science, physics, applied mathematics or a related discipline.

Experience in programming languages (e.g. C, C++, Matlab, Python) is essential. Exposure to high-performance computing and previous knowledge finite-element analysis and/or experimental testing is highly desirable.

Further Information

This studentship is funded by the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The studentship covers the cost of tuition fees and provides an annual tax-free stipend at the standard UK research rate. Please note this position is open to UK and EU citizens that meet the EPSRC eligibility criteria.

For further information about this project please contact Dr Pinaki Bhattacharya via


To apply please use our standard on-line PhD application form, including your CV and two references, and indicate on your form that you are replying to this advert. Alternatively, please email for further guidance on applying.

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