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Phd Studentship in Interface Design of Nanocarbon (Carbon Nanotube and Graphene) Reinforced Lightweight Metal Composites

Imperial College London - Department of Aeronautics

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: London
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Full coverage of tuition fees & an annual tax-free stipend of £17,609
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 29th September 2021
Closes: 15th November 2021
Reference: AE0013

Nanoparticle-reinforced lightweight materials with improved physical properties could reduce the weight of both road vehicles and aircraft, improving fuel efficiency, aiding electrification, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Nanocarbons offer exceptional intrinsic properties at very low densities; the challenge remains to manifest these properties at scale and the poor wettability between nanocarbon and lightweight metal matrix. This PhD project will focus on interface design of nanocarbon with lightweight metal matrices (magnesium and aluminium) to produce nanocarbon-reinforced composite materials to maximise their performance. The candidate will develop methods, which can also be scaled up, to coat nanocarbon surfaces in order to achieve a homogenous dispersion and a desired interface in lightweight metal matrices; the resulting coated nanocarbon will be characterised for an optimal surface morphology. The composites mechanical properties and physical properties will be correlated to detailed multiscale microstructural analysis. This information will be combined with computational models under development by collaborators, in order to establish the underpinning reinforcing mechanisms and to accelerate progress. 

The project will directly benefit from the outstanding synthesis and computational facilities at the Department of Aeronautics, as well as advanced microscopy facilities in the department of Materials Science and nanomaterials chemistry facilities in the newly built £150M Molecular Sciences Research Hub. The project will also benefit from international collaborations with Universities in e.g. Germany and Switzerland. The main work location will be the central London South Kensington campus next to Hyde Park offering an excellent setting for the project and for personal development in a variety of areas. 

Applications are invited for a fully funded Ph.D. studentship in the field of surface design of nanocarbon and its lightweight metal composites including manufacturing and characterisation based in the Department of Aeronautics at Imperial College London. The project will be led by Dr Qianqian Li (, an expert in nano-reinforced lightweight metals, and co-supervised by Prof Milo Shaffer (, an international leader in the chemistry of nanocarbons.

Applicants should have a strong background in chemistry and chemical synthesis, as well as materials knowledge especially in metal materials. Experience with dispersion of nanoparticles is preferred. Candidates should have experience of extended research projects including a degree of autonomy. Applications are invited from candidates with (or who expect to gain) a first-class MEng/MSc degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry, Materials Science, or Chemical Engineering.

“Funding is available for UK citizens and EU citizens who have resided in the UK for the past three years. The studentship is for 3.5 years and will provide full coverage of tuition fees and an annual tax-free stipend of approximately £17,609. 

Informal enquiries and requests for additional information for this post can be made to:
Dr. Qianqian Li via e-mail: 

Should you have any queries regarding the application process please contact:

Ms. Lisa Kelly by e-mail: 

To apply, please go to Meanwhile please also send your cover letter and CV in one pdf document to Dr. Qianqian Li via e-mail: 

Start Date: ASAP 

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