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PhD Studentship - Improved design of Lightweight Composite Sandwich Structures through Integrated High-Fidelity Modelling and Experimental Characterisation

University of Bristol

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bristol
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Minimum £15,285
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 18th January 2021
Closes: 31st March 2021

The project:

Lightweight composite sandwich structures have gained widespread use spanning multiple areas of applications including aerospace, transportation, and wind and tidal turbine blades. Whilst structurally efficient, there are still several scientific and technical challenges that have yet to be fully resolved. The project aims to examine the load response and failure behaviour of lightweight CFRP (carbon reinforced plastic) face sandwich structures subjected to localised and high gradient stress and strain conditions.  These occur in the vicinity of geometric/material discontinuities like e.g. face sheet ply-drops, transitions between sandwich and monolithic type structural layouts, core inserts, changes of core stiffness and structural joints. The project will investigate localised effects that can induce damage initiation/progression, most severely in the form of delamination/ debonding between face sheets and core material, and unstable and very rapid delamination growth can occur without prewarning.

The project will develop an improved and quantitative understanding of the load response and failure behaviour of CFRP face sheet sandwich structures through the integration of high-fidelity experimental methods based on imaging and multi-scale computational modelling. In parallel the project aims to develop a means of significantly improving the damage tolerance of sandwich structures by tailoring the core geometry and the face sheet core interfaces.

The project aligns with the EPSRC Programme Grant “CerTest” that is supported by several companies and technology transfer institutions in the UK aerospace industry. URL for further information:

How to apply:

To apply for this studentship, submit a PhD application using our online application system []

Please ensure that in the Funding section you tick “I would like to be considered for a funding award from the Aerospace Engineering Department” and specify the title of the scholarship in the “other” box below along with the name of the supervisor.  Interested candidates should apply as soon as possible.

Candidate requirements: 

Applicants must hold/achieve a minimum of a 2:1 MEng, MPhys or an MSc (or international equivalent) in a physics or engineering discipline with a preference for mechanics.

Basic skills and knowledge required

Solid and computational mechanics, mechanics of composite materials, advanced experimental techniques including full field imaging.  Experience in the basic mechanics of composite materials e.g. classical laminate theory is essential.  Experience of using tools such as MATLAB, Python and FEA is highly desirable.  During the project, these skills will be developed and enhanced.  The project will develop new expertise in mechanical testing, imaging, and modelling

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Profile E
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.


Minimum £15,285 p.a. in 2020/21 for 4 years subject to eligibility criteria and award.

For EPSRC funding, students must meet the EPSRC residency requirements.


For questions about the research topic please contact Prof Ole Thomsen at

For questions about eligibility and the application process please contact CAME Postgraduate Research Admissions

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