|Funding for:||UK Students|
|Funding amount:||£17,668 p.a. stipend at UKRI rate|
|Placed On:||1st March 2023|
|Closes:||31st May 2023|
Funding providers: UK Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and Swansea University's Faculty of Science and Engineering
Subject areas: Computational mechanics; Engineering simulation
Project start date: 1 October 2023 (Enrolment open from mid–September)
Motivation: Scientists now predict that forty years of conventional hard robot technology will imminently be superseded by a new soft robotics era. Electro Active Polymers (EAPs) have been identified as ideal ultra-soft active materials for the fabrication of soft robot components due to their ability to undergo highly complex actuation (stretching, bending and twisting) when subjected to electric stimuli via compliant electrodes.
Applications: Due to their multifunctional nature, EAPs can act as actuators (or artificial muscles) by responding to stimuli faster than natural muscle or conventional motors, and their light weight makes them suitable for space platforms, prostheses, exoskeletons, haptic feedback devices, deformable lenses and other system concepts, such as Stacked EAPs (via a sandwiched composite arrangement of EAPs and electrodes), shown to exhibit output forces capable of locomotion/propulsion to lift/manipulate objects. EAPs can also be exploited as flexible tactile sensors (for machine touch), wearable motion-capture sensors and energy harvesters
Project aim. Yet the development of EAP soft robots is still in its infancy due to the myriad of design parameters to be considered which act as a bottleneck for progress in the field. In this project, novel computational modelling, 3D/4D-printing and prototyping of two/three multiphase EAPs will be leveraged to “inform” the in-silico design of novel EAP soft robots. In addition, the use of cutting-edge Topology Optimisation nonlinear techniques will be exploited to produce novel effects and reduce the voltage required to achieve actuation.
Resources: The PhD student will take advantage of state-of-the-art soft polymer fabrication (3D/4D printing) and characterisation (i.e. electro-mechanical testing rigs) equipment and the latest computational simulation software tools developed by the group.
Location: Faculty of Science and Engineering, Bay Campus, Swansea University
Available resources/facilities: Access to relevant Computer Clusters and Material Laboratories.
Candidates must normally hold an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University) in Engineering or similar relevant science discipline.
English Language requirements: If applicable – IELTS 6.5 overall (with at least 5.5 in each individual component) or Swansea recognised equivalent.
Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to applicants eligible to pay tuition fees at the UK rate only, as defined by UKCISA regulations.
This scholarship covers the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend at UKRI rate (currently £17,668 for 2022/23) for four years.
Additional research expenses will also be available.
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