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PhD Studentship - Fatigue Characterisation of Composites at Cryogenic Temperatures

University of Bristol - Bristol Composites Institute

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bristol
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: Enhanced minimum stipend of £20,000 p.a.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 6th April 2020
Closes: 15th June 2020

The project:

The materials and design techniques used in superconducting whole-body Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) magnets have been refined over time and now make more extensive use of composite materials than previously.  Material combinations in use include Glass Fibre Reinforced Polymers (GFRP), electrical insulation, encapsulation resin and superconducting wire. Because of the high precision of the magnetic field required in MRI systems, and the high electromagnetic forces that are induced, this requires a unique combination of GRP composite and coil windings. The composites constituents and adhesive joints are subjected to very high loads during operation and also transportation, that lead to stress states that may be critical drivers for design and structural integrity. Thus, the design and management of the thermal mismatch of the constituents and the residual stresses induced by these, as well a detailed understanding of operational and transport conditions are crucial for the development of reliable and safe MRI magnets.

The overarching objective of this project is to assess the transportation induced fatigue behaviour and fatigue life of composite cylinder/superconducting coil assemblies used for MRI magnets, taking into account the unique combination of materials and the complex interactions existing in the MRI magnet construction and operational lifecycle. The project aims and objectives are: 

  • Identification and characterisation of the critical load and failure mode for fatigue of composite    cylinder/superconducting coil assemblies used for MRI magnets during transportation
  • Characterisation of the fatigue behaviour and strength of MRI magnet specific materials, and composite cylinder/superconducting coil assemblies used for MRI magnets, for the identified failure modes including the development of suitable predictive modelling tools and experimental characterisation techniques
  • Formulation of suitable design rules for application of the MRI magnet fatigue strength data measured

URL for further information:

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at Please select < Aerospace Engineering> on the Programme Choice page and enter details of the studentship when prompted in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form.

Candidate requirements: 

Applicants must hold/achieve a minimum of a master’s degree (or international equivalent) in a science, mathematics or engineering discipline

The ideal candidate will have a basic understanding and experience with mechanics and design of composite materials, finite element analysis, experimental characterisation of materials


This Icase award studentship is available from Sept 2020 and will cover the following for 4 years:

  • Tuition fees at Home/UK rate
  • Tax free stipend
  • A top-up from the industrial sponsor is included


Informal enquiries, Professor Ole Thomsen;

General enquiries, please email

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