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PhD Studentship: Developing Methodologies for Correlative Microstructural Characterisation of Materials Degradation

University of Bristol - School of Physics

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bristol
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 31st March 2021
Closes: 19th April 2021

The project:  This studentship, co-funded with EDF Energy Nuclear Generation Ltd, will focus on the development of new methodologies to correlate the microstructural features of materials degradation with the engineering stress, strain and environmental conditions that caused them. The project will focus initially on applying advanced imaging and characterisation to creep damage in AISI Type 316H stainless steel. The long-term ambition of the project is to develop a methodology applicable more broadly for characterising other forms of degradation including fatigue and stress corrosion cracking. It is important to understand how the location of damage in ex-service and test specimens correlates with both the microstructure of the material and the operational conditions. Emphasis will be placed on developing image processing techniques using machine learning tools to combine muliple large-scale mapping techniques, correlate degradation with the underlying microstructure and stresses, and compare to engineering model predictions. 

The main areas of investigation for this project will include:

1) Quantification and characterisation of the microstructure of the nano to micro- length scales of controlled tensile and creep specimens.

2) Link deformation and stresses observed in tensile, creep tests and ex-service specimens to underlying microstructure and predicted stresses from engineering models.

3) Develop a methodology for the correlative analysis of materials degradation across large areas of a specimen, linking multiple techniques. 

The project will be based in the Interface Analysis Centre within the School of Physics at the University of Bristol (supervisors Dr Tomas Martin and Professor Peter Flewitt FREng) and will be closely connected with the Department of Mechanical Engineering and EDF Energy Nuclear Generation Ltd at Barnwood, Gloucestershire.  

The successful candidate will have access to a wide range of state-of-the-art surface and materials analysis instrumentation providing the opportunity to develop skills in advanced materials characterisation techniques including electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) and focused ion beam cross-sectioning, as well as leading materials modelling methods and image analysis tools. This studentship is a fantastic opportunity for any candidate wishing to have a long and successful career in materials research.    

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 computer modelling. Experience of materials science or microscopy is desirable but not essential. 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 Doctoral Training Partnership with cofunding from EDF Energy Nuclear Generation Ltd as part of their High Temperature Centre (HTC) programme. Funding will cover tuition fees at the UK student level and an annual stipend for up to three and half years at the standard UKRI stipend rate (Currently set at £15,285 for 2020/21). 

Contacts: To discuss this opportunity further, we encourage potential applicants to contact Dr Tomas Martin ( and Professor Peter Flewitt (  

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