Postgraduate research opportunities

Digital image processing for aerospace materials

Working with the AFRC's Tier 1 members, the aim of the proposed doctorate is to develop the image analysis tool that could be intelligent enough to fulfill the requirements from both academia and industry sectors.

Number of places



Home fee, Stipend


9 August 2019


28 February 2020


4 years


Applications are welcome from all who possess or are about to obtain a first class or 2.1 BEng (Hons), MEng or MSc degree, or equivalent EU/International qualification, in a relevant discipline.

Applications from Home, Rest of UK and EU students will receive funding of the home fee and stipend.

International Students are welcome to apply but should be aware of the additional funding requirements and will have to provide evidence that they can pay the difference in fees of circa £16k per annum.

Find out more about this exciting PhD opportunity by clicking through the tabs above.

Individuals interested in this project should email, along with the title of project you are applying for and attach your most up-to-date cv.

Project Details

Are you looking to gain direct industrial experience whilst developing your specialist research area of interest?

The manufacturing processes alter the microstructure of materials, which determines their mechanical properties. This makes reliable microstructural analysis important to the design and manufacture of components. However, the analysis of complex microstructures, such as Ti6Al4V, is difficult and typically requires expert materials scientists to manually identify and measure microstructural features. This process is often slow, labour intensive and suffers from poor repeatability. This project, addresses these problems by proposing a new set of automated techniques for microstructural analysis. Digital image processing algorithms will be developed in the way that can isolate individual features of microstructural images, such as grains and alpha lath colonies. A segmentation of the image is produced where each region is a grain or colony within the image, from which morphological features such as; grain size, volume fraction of globular alpha grains and alpha colony size can be measured. The measurement techniques will be developed for obtainment of similar results to existing manual methods while drastically improving speed and repeatability. The benefits of the proposed approach when measuring complex microstructures will be presented by comparing the proposed techniques with existing image analysis software. Using a few parameter changes, the proposed techniques are effective on a variety of microstructure types and both scanning electron microscope (SEM) and Optical microscopy (OM) images.

The software looks into most complicated type of microstructures, i.e. transformed (deformed) Ti-6Al-4V and commercial pure Ti. These materials are widely used in aerospace, medicine, sport and architecture sectors. The AFRC has delivered a lot of projects for Boeing, Timet, Barnes and other Tier 1 and Tier 2 members, where Ti-6Al-4V and commercial pure Ti were the main research materials. Therefore it is evidenced about high demand for these materials amongst main players in different industrial sectors.

The aim of the proposed doctorate is to develop the image analysis tool that could be intelligent enough to fulfil the requirements from both academia and industry sectors.

This doctorate allowing the Tier 1 members and Scottish companies to exploit advances of the developed software:

  • Enhance the quality of the metal products provided by Tier 1 members and Scottish companies through the enhanced analysis of the microstructural features.
  • Speed up the microstructure assessment routine within academic and industrial media;
  • Avoid human error factor occurring during manual assessment of the microstructures;
  • Increase the applicability of the microstructural analysis for different type of microstructural features.
  • Accelerate the development of new materials and application of them for manufacturing processes in order to increase the competitiveness of the Scottish industry.

The automated software will contribute to academic and research area. Bigger volume of data (number structural elements) could be accurately analysed within short time period. It is important not only for standard microstructure analysis, but also for materials with different type of microstructural elements, that really hard to characterise with good statistics. It will open up new possibilities for researchers to look deeply to materials nature (mechanics) and develop the fundamental dependences between microstructure and material properties.

Funding Details

This fully-funded industrial PhD opportunity will cover Home and EU Fees and Stipend.

We will accept applications from international students who can confirm in their email application that they are able to pay the difference between the Home and International fees (approximately £16,000 per annum). If you are unable to cover this cost the application will be rejected.



The University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) is a globally-recognised centre of excellence in innovative manufacturing technologies, engineering research and development, and metal forming and forging research.

For a decade the centre has been at the heart of manufacturing research in Scotland. It is the only High Value Manufacturing Catapult centre in the country, one of only 7 in the UK making it the critical link between manufacturers in Scotland and the rest of this world-class network of manufacturing innovation and expertise.

The AFRC helps to fill the gap between fundamental academic research and industry. We help companies to turn innovative technologies and ideas into a commercial reality that will increase their competitiveness, boost their business and secure the manufacturing sector in Scotland and the UK for generations to come.

We offer world-class expertise and cutting-edge technologies that help firms develop solutions that bring about real business benefits for companies of all sizes from across the UK and internationally.

Capabilities include:

  • High integrity forging and thermal processing
  • Materials evolution, component resilience, and residual stress
  • Near net shape design and make
  • Sheet processing technology
  • Digitalisation, technology planning of process and supply chains

Further information

Research challenge:

The level of mechanical properties, such as strength, ductility, yield stress, tensile strength and hardness strongly depends on the microstructure of metal. One of the key aspects of manufacturing process is to provide required microstructure with controlled level of properties. Different thermo-mechanical parameters of the manufacturing process induce transformation of microstructure that generates specific microstructural features.

Development of new manufacturing processes or models, and the existing design and manufacturing of high value components, must consider the effect of the microstructure of the material. This makes microstructural analysis essential for many academic and industrial projects.

Microstructures can contain a variety of different features, each often requiring different analysis procedures to measure them. Several techniques have already been proposed to measure a range of microstructural features; however, all have limitations that still need to be addressed.

Contact us

How to apply

If you are interested in this brilliant opportunity and wish to apply, please send your CV in for the attention of Dr Dorothy Evans to