Our research cuts across the traditional disciplinary boundaries, and we therefore invite applications for research leading to the PhD degree from scientists and engineers in all appropriate subjects who have an interest in any of our research areas. The main application sectors addressed by our research are: energy conversion; environmental protection; transport; electronics/optoelectronics; and healthcare. Across all themes the research is carried out with strong support from and involvement of industrial organisations. This close collaboration with industry, alongside our first class facilities, ensures that the Department is at the forefront of Materials Science and Engineering research.

EU nationals coming to the UK for postgraduate studies now have guarantees for funding for studies starting in 2020. The guarantee ensures that those coming to the UK will remain eligible for postgraduate training support from UK Research and Innovation for courses beginning in the academic year 2020 to 2021. For more information please check this link

Postgraduate Research Courses

PhDs

 

Atomic-scale design of electrocatalysts for renewable energy conversion and storage in energy-rich fuels

Rapidly decarbonizing our electricity, transport and industrial sectors has become one of the most pressing challenges of modern society, research and industry. Such a restructuring requires new clean fuels for the transport sector, new green synthesis routes in the chemical industry (i.e. hydrocarbon synthesis), and scalable energy storage options. As electricity generation from renewables becomes cheaper, large-scale synthesis of fuels and chemicals via electrocatalysis of CO2 and water to energy-rich fuels is particularly attractive. Copper is one of the catalysts that is able to yield C2+ products such as ethylene, ethanol and others, but tailoring the catalyst selectivity towards one specific product remains a challenge. Often, only H2, CO and other C1 products are observed.

The aim of this project is to understand how yield and selectivity in the CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR) on copper electrodes (metallic copper and its oxides) can be tailored towards a single product. The approach will be to alter the electrode surface composition using atomic layer deposition (ALD) and understand the function of the ALD-modified surface in the catalytic reaction. ALD is a thin film deposition technique able to control material growth down to a monolayer or even thinner on flat substrates as well as within high aspect ratio nanostructures. As such, active sites can be engineered with atomic precision and their electrocatalytic performance can be studied on flat model systems as well as in high surface area electrode architectures. The emphasis on material characterisation will lie on the catalyst surface including the identification of the catalytically active site(s) (is it one single metal centre, a bimetallic active site, metal centre/defect, metal centre/oxide interface?) using state-of-the-art surface characterisation and operando electrochemical techniques.

You will have the opportunity to work amongst and learn from an interdisciplinary and supportive network of top researchers across Imperial College London with expertise in surface science, nanomaterials, catalysis and modelling theory, and connect to a cohort of PhD students and postdoctoral researchers through collaborations, research seminars and networking events.

Application process: Please submit your CV and a cover letter, including full contact details of two referees, to Ludmilla Steier (l.steier@imperial.ac.uk). After a short interview and discussion of a more detailed research plan, you would need to apply online and include a research proposal (two-page limit) outlining your academic and research achievements to date, explaining in brief your planned research project. In the funding section of the application form, please specify that you wish to apply for the departmental DTP funds.

 
Supervisor:
Dr Ludmilla Steier



Start date: October 2020
Duration:
42 months
Position available:
1

Funding:
A 3.5 year fully funded PhD studentship in the Department of Materials at Imperial College London is open to UK and EU students who have been ordinarily residents for 3 years.


Deadline: 
11:59 pm, 28 February 2020 (for full online application).

>> How to Apply

Summary of the table's contents
 

Understanding the atomic-scale osteoinductive properties of bio-ceramics for bone regeneration

Bone can self-regenerate, however, often bone regeneration is enhanced by the use of a “bone graft”. Synthetic bone grafts from calcium phosphates (CaPs) have raised interest due to their similarity to the mineral composition of bone, their abundance, and their excellent clinical performance. Most efforts to use CaP as bone substitutes have been devoted to sintered CaP such as hydroxyapatite, β-tricalcium phosphate and their composites called biphasic CaPs (BCP). Numerous studies have investigated the in vivo behavior of CaP and have revealed that HA, β-TCP and BCP are resorbed by cell-mediated acid-driven dissolution, with preferential attacks at grain boundaries that threaten the structural integrity of the ceramics. Not all grains and grain boundaries are susceptible to these attacks, or at least not at the same rate, which could be related to the specific composition of the grain boundaries. Doping was shown to lead to changes in the dissolution behaviour, but the reasons underpinning this change are still unknown. To address this significant knowledge gap, we propose a project focused on the measurement of the composition of grain boundaries at the atomic scale using atom probe tomography, combined with electron microscopy where necessary, on a series of model ceramics with controlled levels of dopants. By relating the composition of grain boundaries to their in vitro and in vivo behaviour, we hope to pave the way for designing biologically more potent ceramics, in particular ceramics with osteoinductive properties. 

This project will be under the supervision of Dr Baptiste Gault and Prof. Saiz at Imperial College London and in collaboration with Dr. Marc Bohner from the RMS Foundation (https://www.rms-foundation.ch/en/staff-member/marc-bohner.html)  for the synthesis and in vitro tests. Most of the work is to be conducted at the Max-Planck-Institute für Eisenforschung in Düsseldorf, Germany, where Dr Gault is based. 

 
Supervisor:
Dr Baptiste Gault and Prof Eduardo Saiz



Start date: October 2020
Duration:
42 months
Position available:
1

Funding:
UK and EU students.


Deadline:
June 2020

>> How to Apply

Summary of the table's contents
 

Accelerating the Development of Anisotropic Chalcohalides for Non-Toxic, Stable Photovoltaics

Solar cells made from lead-halide perovskites have rapidly outperformed industry-standard silicon photovoltaics despite being made by cheaper methods. A key enabling property is the ability of the lead-halide perovskites to tolerate its most common point defects. Bismuth- and antimony-based compounds have recently been predicted to replicate the defect-tolerance of the lead-halide perovskites, but have the critical advantage of being substantially less toxic. Chalcohalides (such as BiSI and SbSI) have gained attention because these compounds have suitable band gaps for photovoltaics, are processable using simple and scalable methods, and are stable in air. However, the one-dimensional structure of these materials results in anisotropic charge-carrier diffusion lengths, which is challenging to integrate with standard vertically-structured diodes. This project will develop a Microstructured Interdigitated Back contact Solar cell (MIBS) to extract photogenerated carriers from the high-mobility lateral direction in compact c-axis oriented thin films. MIBS will comprise of alternating n- and p-type electrodes spaced 1–20 mm apart, which will be probed with photocurrent spectroscopy to measure diffusion length. This will allow the photovoltaic potential of chalcohalides to be established faster, which can accelerate the optimisation of chalcohalide thin films in efficient photovoltaics. MIBS can also be more broadly applied as a tool to accelerate the development of new anisotropic solar absorbers.

 
Supervisor:
Dr Robert Hoye (Materials)



Start date: October 2020-April 2021
Duration:
42 months
Position available:
1

Funding: 
DTP funding. UK and EU students (who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for three years prior to the start date).


Deadline: 
1st of May 2020

>> How to Apply

Summary of the table's contents
 
 
Low activation galling-resistant alloys

Nuclear power plant contain many large valves that are typically made of alloys that resist adhesive wear (galling) under high temperature water conditions, i.e. Stellites. These are carbide-reinforced Co-base alloys which show outstanding hardness. It is commonly believed that due to their low stacking fault energy, Co-base matrices perform well because they can twin and work harden, resisting shear and pull-out of the carbide reinforcement. However, Co wear products suffer from neutron activation in the primary circuit, which is undesirable, and so there is an industry-wide search for low-activation replacement matrix alloys. In this project we will develop new matrix materials that can provide such behaviour whilst also providing appropriate oxide films that lubricate the contact surface when exposed to PWR water operating conditions. Techniques used will include 0.5kg-scale ingot melting and processing, galling testing, electron microscopy (incl (S)TEM, EBSD), with the potential to then use advanced characterisation techniques such as atom probe tomography and neutron and synchrotron x-ray diffraction.



Supervisor:
Prof David Dye, Fionn Dunne, David Stewart (Rolls-Royce)

Start date: October 2020
Duration:
36 months
Position available:
1

Funding:
50% funded by Rolls-Royce, incl top-up of bursary to £20k for 4 years.

50% funded by Characterisation CDT, Department or Faculty of Engineering DTA CASE conversion (Home students only).


Deadline:
31 January 2020

>> How to Apply

Summary of the table's contents
 
Micromechanical fundamentals of deformation in Titanium Alloys

Titanium alloys are used in jet engines due to their superior specific high cycle fatigue strength at temperatures up to >500℃. However, they are notch and defect sensitive, and so the development of improved Ti alloys, supporting the airworthiness of the fleet and engine development all rely on improving our understanding of their behaviour against unusual deformation regimes, such as dwell and notch fatigue (stress state).  Our work on these topics has had substantial impact on air safety.  In this area we are primarily concerned with understanding deformation mechanisms and interactions with microstructure. Technique opportunities include the EBSD examination of deformation substructures, (S)TEM, synchrotron x-ray and neutron diffraction, mechanical characterisation (i.e. forging, fatigue) and atom probe tomography (with Oxford or MPIE Dusseldorf).



Supervisor:
Prof David Dye, Trevor Lindley, Prof David Rugg (Rolls-Royce)

Start date: October 2020
Duration:
36 months
Position available:
1

Funding:
50% funded by Rolls-Royce, incl top-up of bursary to £20k for 4 years.

50% funded by Characterisation CDT, Department or Faculty of Engineering DTA CASE conversion (Home students only).


Deadline:
31 January 2020

>> How to Apply

Summary of the table's contents
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Centres for Doctoral Training

Centre for Doctoral Training in the Advanced Characterisation of Materials (ACM CDT) 

Imperial College London and University College London

PhD Studentships 

EPSRC and SFI Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced characterisation of Materials (CDTACM)

Duration: 48 months (starting on 1st October 2020)

The Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Characterisation of Materials, a joint centre between Imperial college London, University College London and Trinity College Dublin has a PhD studentship available in the Department of Materials on Fundamental understanding of electrode-electrolyte interfaces in novel batteries.

There is an imperative to reduce society’s dependence on fossil fuels.  Battery technologies are required for the major markets of transport electrification and grid connected energy storage supporting renewable energy generation. However, there is current no truly sustainable solution to this problem.

Addressing this world problem LiNa Energy is developing a novel battery technology to transform current automotive and energy-storage solutions.  It is based around a new sodium metal chloride design which produces high energy density cells and battery packs which are both safe and low cost.  This technology has the potential to transform battery markets accelerating the uptake of electric vehicles and allowing the introduction of further renewable generation capacity into electricity systems.  In both markets a good low cost and sustainable battery solution is a major missing link in the widespread adoption.

The chemistry used in the cells has been around for several years, but it has yet to reach its full commercial potential.  It is significantly different from incumbent chemistries and has been neglected whilst most academic studies and commercial research have concentrated on lithium ion or similar systems.  Therefore, this project with LiNa Energy in partnership with Imperial College, represents an exciting opportunity to develop an in-depth and fundamental understanding of the electrode – electrolyte interfaces, charge transfer and conduction mechanisms in a sodium metal chloride cell.  The project will make use of the extensive materials characterisation and surface science techniques available at the college to develop new knowledge in the field.  Never previously reported chemical and structural observations and characterisation will be made and at length scales only available to a few institutions worldwide.  Opportunity will exist to study reactions as they happen (in operando) using facilities at the college.  This knowledge and information will be crucial to the design of the most optimal cells for future applications.

You will hold, or be expected to achieve, a Master's degree in addition to a Bachelor's degree (or equivalent) at 2:1 level (or above) in a relevant subject (e.g. Materials, Physics, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Mechanical, Electrical or Chemical Engineering).  the studentship is available to home students*

To make informal enquires and apply please email a full CV, including the marks (%) for all (undergraduate) modules completed to date, the names and contact details of two referees, as well as a covering letter to Ms Hafiza Bibi h.bibi@imperial.ac.uk.

 

* European Union nationals who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least three years prior to starting a PhD studentship.

Closing date:  30th May 2020

Both ICL and UCL are committed to equality and valuing diversity. Both are Athena SWAN Silver Award winners and Stonewall Diversity Champions. ICL is a Two Ticks Employer and is working in partnership with GIRES to promote respect for trans people. UCL holds a race equality bronze award.


EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy Futures  EPSRC logo

Applications are invited for four-year fully-funded PhD studentships, there are 12 Studentships available, starting in October 2019 at either Imperial College London, University of Cambridge, University of Bristol, The Open University or Bangor University.

Nuclear power generates the largest fraction of low-carbon electricity in the UK and has a positive impact on the security and stability of our nation's energy supply. As the UK curbs fossil fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, includes a greater proportion of renewable energy, and at the same time electrifies road transport and decarbonises central heating, nuclear power assumes a vital role in any future energy mix as a source of low-carbon baseload electricity.

To ensure nuclear is an important part of a greener and securer future, the skills shortage needs to be addressed, new build and decommissioning costs need to come down, geological disposal must be explored, and the UK has to have the skills to contribute meaningfully to cutting-edge technologies, such as fusion and Gen IV reacto

For more information about the programme and funding options, please visit imperial.ac.uk/nuclear-cdt/programme/, or download our pdf document‌.

Start date:
October 2019
Duration: 48 months (PhD)
Funding: Only to applicants who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for three years prior to the start date
How to apply: 5 August 2019


EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Plastic Electronics  EPSRC logo


The Plastic Electronics CDT academic cohort comprises over 30 academics from the Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Materials and Physics departments at Imperial, the School of Engineering and Materials Science at Queen Mary University, London, and the Physics and Materials departments at the University of Oxford. This ensures expertise in all aspects of the science of printable electronics, from material synthesis to advanced characterisation and modelling, to device design and fabrication. The PE-CDT aims to produce graduates with interdisciplinary experience and capability in the science and applications of printable electronic materials and devices, with an understanding of the associated industry, and with the ability to adapt and develop new technologies and applications.

For more information please visit the Centre for Doctoral Training in Plastic Electronics

Start date:
TBC
Duration: 48 months  (MREs +PhD)
Funding: Only to applicants who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for three years prior to the start date
How to apply: For up-to-date offers, please visit the Centre for Doctoral Training in Plastic Electronics programme pages website


EPSRC Imperial-Cambridge-Open Centre for Theory and Simulation of Materials (TSM-CDT)  EPSRC logo

The 4 year PhD programme in Theory and Simulation of Materials combines the one year MSc in TSM with a 3 year PhD research project. The first year provides a rigorous training in the required theoretical methods and simulation techniques through the taught MSc programme and includes a 3-month research project which normally acts as an introduction to the PhD research project that follows.

On completion of the MSc in TSM, students undertake their PhD research project, which occupies years 2-4. Each student has at least two supervisors (one of whom may be based in industry or at another university) whose combined expertise spans multiple length- and/or time-scales of materials theory and simulation. Students do not have to make a choice of their research project until May of year 1 and there will be a large range of projects to choose from.

For more information please visit: imperial.ac.uk/theory-and-simulation-of-materials/programmes/4-year-phd/

Start date:
TBC
Duration: 48 months (MSc +PhD)
Funding: Only to applicants who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for three years prior to the start date
How to apply: Please visit: imperial.ac.uk/theory-and-simulation-of-materials/phd-opportunities/