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The Influence of Fibre-matrix Interphase and Manufacturing Defects on the Environmental Resistance of Fibre Reinforced Composites for Structural Applications

As part of the EU Horizon 2020 funded DACOMAT project the Advanced Composites Group is researching the fundamental knowledge of the micromechanical performance of the fibre-matrix interphase in composite for infrastructure as a function of the environmental history.

Number of places



Home fee, Stipend


6 February 2018


30 April 2018


Open to Home/EU applicants only.

Applicants should hold, or obtain at least a second class upper division degree (2.1) in Chemistry or Mechanical Engineering.  

Project Details

The project is due to commence October 2018, as part of the four year DACOMAT project the ACG team is tasked with providing the fundamental knowledge of the micromechanical performance of the composite fibre-matrix interphase as a function of the environmental history. We also identified a need to better define how initial manufacturing defects (voids) and in service damage changes the diffusion and moisture uptake characteristics and long-term mechanical performance of these composites.  This three year PhD project will support the generation of this fundamental knowledge which will provide improved input to the material selection and development for the two demonstrator applications

Lightweight Advanced Materials and Composites technology is a key feature in the Research Strategy of the MAE Department. The research and development of lightweight, high performance, environmentally durable, composites is one of the key areas of focus for the Advanced Composites Group (ACG) within the MAE. The increasing popularity of advanced fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) composites and their emergence as key materials in the renewable energy and infrastructure sectors are linked to the reduction in raw material costs, which in turn is a consequence of the increasing production volumes and steady improvements in production methods. The uptake of FRP materials in the construction sector has been significantly slower and consequently represents an area for enormous growth in composite materials applications. However, the lack of knowledge and understanding about the durability and damage tolerance of FRPs in infrastructure environments has been identified as a primary stumbling block preventing the adoption of FRP in construction. This uncertainty creates an atmosphere of low confidence in the use of composites for infrastructure applications, where clients and stakeholders need to "know" how the material will perform in over timescales of many decades.

The objective of the DACOMAT team is to develop more damage tolerant and damage predictable low cost composite materials in particular aimed for used in large load carrying infrastructure constructions such as bridges, buildings, wind-turbine blades and off shore structures. The materials and condition monitoring solutions developed will enable composite structures to be designed and manufactured as large parts allowing for more and larger manufacturing defects and the need for manual inspection to be dramatically reduced. A demonstration of the materials’ performances in relevant environment will be conducted in two business cases: wind turbine blades and road bridge beams. The project partners include 1 Independent Research Organisation, 3 Universities and 8 Companies which cover the full industrial value chain: ranging from materials development and manufacturing to composite parts demonstrators and standardisation.

Funding Details

The University Research Excellence Award scholarship will provide payment of Home/EU tuition fees, and a monthly stipend of approximately £15,000 per year.

Further information

Language skills in any of the following would be useful: Danish, French, Norwegian and Spanish