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Research Studentship in Impact Engineering

University of Oxford

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Oxford
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: See advert text
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 30th November 2020
Closes: 22nd January 2021
Reference: 21ENGXRAY_DEDC

Research Studentship in Impact Engineering

4-year D.Phil. studentship 

Project: New paradigms for X-ray probing of dynamic failure at the mesoscale

Supervisors: Prof Daniel Eakins and Dr David Chapman

Understanding the dynamic mechanical behaviour of materials is important to numerous industries involving high-rate processes such as advanced manufacturing, automotive, aeronautics, space, or defence technologies. The high operational stresses and velocities common to these applications often lead to sudden and catastrophic failure, which is challenging and expensive to both diagnose and remedy. Developing improved materials for these high-rate environments requires knowledge of their specific failure mechanisms, which may include a wide range of mesoscale phenomena such as void nucleation and coalescence, adiabatic shear localisation, deformation twinning, and/or structural phase transitions.

This project aims to develop novel quantitative x-ray techniques to probe the dynamic failure of materials in real-time, by employing x-ray phase contrast imaging (XPCI) using both synchrotron and in-house based x-ray sources. XPCI is a powerful technique, which exploits subtle differences in refractive index rather than absorption to generate contrast in a radiograph. This greatly enhances the visibility of fine spatial features, such as the formation of voids or cracks, enabling investigation of the incipient stages and subsequent evolution of material failure. The candidate will contribute towards the development of a novel in-house x-ray source and the design and preparation of synchrotron experiments at international facilities (ESRF in France and APS in USA). Whilst clearly an experimental project, a significant element of the work will be the enhancement and development of current and new computational algorithms to both predict and analyze XPCI radiographs. The candidate will go on to apply these techniques to specific high-rate processes, such as the dynamic fragmentation of materials made through advanced manufacturing techniques, to develop an enhanced understanding of the specific failure mechanisms involved.

This project offers the opportunity to undertake fundamental research in the field of shock-physics, involving elements of materials science, mechanics, and ultrafast diagnostics.


To be eligible for a full award (stipend and fees) a student must be a UK citizen.

Award Value

Course fees are covered at the level set for Home students (c. £8290 p.a.). The stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) is of at least £15285 p.a. for the first year, and at least this amount for three more years.

Candidate Requirements

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

  • A first class honours degree in Engineering, Physics or Materials Science
  • Excellent English written and spoken communication skills

The following skills are also highly desirable:

  • Programming experience (i.e. Matlab, Python, etc.)
  • Strong laboratory-based skills

Application Procedure

Informal enquiries are encouraged and should be addressed to Prof Daniel Eakins ( and Dr. David Chapman (

Candidates must submit a graduate application form and are expected to meet the graduate admissions criteria.  Details are available on the course page of the University website.

Please quote 21ENGXRAY_DEDC in all correspondence and in your graduate application.

Application deadline: noon on 22 January 2020 (In line with the January admissions deadline, set by the University)

Start date: October 2021

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