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PhD Studentship: Learning from Nature: Biomimetic Approach for a New Generation of Advanced Armoured Composite Materials

University of Bath

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bath
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £14,777 maintenance stipend, Home/EU tuition fees, training support fee of £1,000 per annum for up to 3.5 years
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 14th February 2019
Closes: 30th April 2019

Over the last two decades, composite materials have changed the world of industry, reshaping several industrial sectors including aerospace, automotive and energy. Due to their unique strength to weight ratio, these materials have allowed for the development of new lightweight aircrafts and automobiles characterised by high mechanical properties, lower fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions. However, the expansion of these materials into armoured systems and protective structures is, to this date, still hindered by their weak resistance against impact events given by their intrinsic layered nature, which makes them susceptible to catastrophic failures due to their brittle behaviour. To overcome these limitations, an interesting approach is to take inspiration from nature, starting from the consideration that the efficiency of natural materials rises from the double necessity of supporting life while offering protection from the external environment.

This project aims at analysing the relationships between biological systems and advanced composites materials, taking inspiration from natural impact-resistant structures in order to develop new armoured laminates capable to withstand shock loads in the out-of-plane direction. The project will investigate new geometries and three-dimensional arrangements of specific plants, crustacean cuticles and sponges, and analyse hybrid structures such as natural fibres and mollusc shells to derive new design principles and manufacturing processes for a new generation of advanced composite systems. During the project, the successful candidate will work in a friendly and multi-disciplinary environment, working on the design, manufacturing and mechanical characterisation (destructive and non-destructive tests) of novel composite structures and armour materials.

The outcomes of this project will lead to applications into aerospace (leading edges and radome), railways (boogies and underframe) and defence applications (body armours and blast resistant panels) expanding the use of composite systems into new fields while pushing their limits to face new exciting challenges such as multifunctional systems and responsive materials.

What will you learn during this PhD?

  • to analyse and design advanced composite structures based on biomimicry principles
  • to manufacture hybrid composite laminates with advanced methods and innovative processes
  • to characterise the mechanical response of composite materials with both static and dynamic tests, investigating their behaviour and microstructure with both destructive and non-destructive tests

Successful applicants will ideally have graduated (or be due to graduate) with an undergraduate Masters first class degree and/or MSc distinction (or overseas equivalent). Any English language requirements must be met at the deadline for applications.

Essential Background: Material Science and Structural Engineering with some understanding of chemistry and composite materials’ principles.

For informal inquiries contact Dr Fulvio Pinto (

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

This project is eligible for inclusion in funding rounds scheduled for end of November 2018, January 2019, February 2019, March 2019 and April 2019. A full application must have been submitted before inclusion in a funding round.

Funding will cover Home/EU tuition fees, a maintenance stipend (£14,777 pa (2018/19 rate)) and a training support fee of £1,000 per annum for up to 3.5 years. Early application is strongly recommended.

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