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EPSRC iCASE Studentship on the Effect of Molten Lead on Structural and Fuel Materials for Generation IV Nuclear Fission and Fusion

University of Bristol - School of Physics

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bristol
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 15th February 2021
Closes: 21st March 2021

The project:

An EPSRC iCase funded PhD studentship opportunity is available within the Interface Analysis Centre Research Group in the University of Bristol School of Physics working in collaboration with the National Nuclear Laboratory on the effects of molten lead on materials for advanced fission and fusion energy. 

Decarbonising the energy sector is critical to achieving net zero. Innovative molten lead-based technologies supporting both fission (reactor coolant) and fusion (breeding blanket) show enormous promise. This PhD addresses significant gaps in scientific and technological understanding of interactions between molten lead and advanced materials. The corrosive conditions in an irradiated lead coolant circuit are highly challenging to conventional materials. The project will undertake materials degradation test work at small scale using a variety of materials and make mechanistic advances to allow prediction and control of corrosion, as well as facilitating development and qualification of new materials.

This exciting PhD project will centre around small scale mechanistic material degradation testing in high temperature molten lead. The student will have the opportunity to gain experience in development of experimental techniques and the properties of a number of novel structural materials. The student will also gain experience in advanced materials characterisation techniques including scanning and transmission electron microscopy, electron backscatter diffraction, atom probe tomography and high-speed atomic force microscopy. There will be the opportunity for the student to take part in collaborative work with larger scale national facilities.

The project is central to the EPSRC energy theme, addressing materials, fission and fusion research areas. The student will have the opportunity to contribute to addressing materials degradation (corrosion) challenges facing advanced nuclear reactor technologies and barriers to application of new materials in these challenging environments.

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at Please select Physics PhD on the Programme Choice page. You will be prompted to enter details of the studentship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form.

Candidate requirements:  Candidates should have completed an undergraduate degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) in Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Materials Science or an MSc/MRes in a relevant subject. Students should be comfortable with laboratory experiments, and experience of corrosion, materials science, microscopy or nuclear energy is desirable. To be eligible for a full award (stipend and fees) applicants must be a UK citizen, have settled status in the UK or have been ‘ordinarily resident in the UK for 3 years prior to April 2021 – see for more details.

Funding: This studentship is fully funded under the EPSRC iCase scheme with the National Nuclear Laboratory and will cover tuition fees and an annual stipend for up to four years.

Contacts: To discuss this opportunity further, we encourage potential applicants to contact Dr Tomas Martin ( and Dr Ross Springell (

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