Skip to Content

PhD Opportunities

Microstructure and mechanical properties of an advanced metal matrix composite with ultrafine particle reinforcement for manufacturing aerospace components

School of Natural and Built Environment | PHD
Funding
Unfunded
Reference Number
SNBE-2021-WS
Application Deadline
None specified
Start Date
None specified

Overview

Metal matrix composites have the high strength needed for advanced manufacturing, but they tend to have limited ductility, because they are almost invariably reinforced by hard ceramic particles that are brittle themselves and also have a rather brittle interface with the metal matrix. Shandong Yuanhang Ultra Light Material Research Institute Co., Ltd., China invented a world-first metal matrix composite that is reinforced by an intermetallic compound YAl2. Because the reinforcing particles are also metals, there should be a seamless interface between the particles and the metal matrix, thus overcoming the brittle interface problem. In addition, these particles are ultrafine, down to the nanometre range, so their strengthening is more effective.

The metal matrix of this new material is an ultra-light magnesium alloy and would be suitable for manufacturing critical components for aerospace products specifically satellites, drones, and low-altitude aircrafts, where weight and strength-to-weight ratio are important. However, before the new material can be used, we need to fully understand its properties and performance, and to know the optimal processing parameters to achieve the best properties and performance. In order to accomplish these, we need to study the microstructure and metal/particle interface of the prototype composite. Then, we need to figure out where to use this top-notch material for advanced manufacturing. All these are part of this PhD project.
This project is interdisciplinary, between materials science, composite production, and mechanical, manufacturing and aerospace engineering. It will be intersectoral, between academia and industry, working directly with the company responsible for the invention of this material. It is international, because the company is in China. The combination is essential, because, without the company, we don’t have this material to study and without Queen’s University, it will take longer for this material to reach its full potential.

Project Summary
Supervisor
Professor Wei Sha
Mode of Study

Full-time: 3 years

Part-time: 6 years


Apply now Register your interest

Civil Engineering overview

The research centre will address the topical grand challenges in civil engineering field, building on existing and developing new international collaborations. Financial support to meet these challenges will be acquired through both internal University initiatives (for enhanced infrastructure and facilities) and external funding from government grants, charities and direct industrial support.

Research will address the grand challenges of energy, carbon, clean water, infrastructure; exploring extremes and defining new limits. Key research areas include:

Marine renewable energy
Groundwater and environmental systems
Geotechnics
Intelligent infrastructure and high performance structures
Energy efficient materials

Mode of study / duration

Registration is on a full-time or part-time basis, under the direction of a supervisory team appointed by the University. You will be expected to submit your thesis at the end of three years of full-time registration for PhD, or two years for MPhil (or part-time equivalent).

Civil Engineering Highlights
Global Opportunities
  • Civil Engineering sits within two trans-disciplinary clusters, bringing together researchers from spatial planning, architecture, geography, paleoecology and civil engineering to tackle some of the world's most pressing urban and environmental challenges.
    https://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/NBE/Research/
Industry Links
  • Civil Engineering is led by a Head of Discipline supported by team leaders with responsibility for maintaining excellence in its research groups. One of these, the Intelligent and Sustainable Infrastructure Group (ISIG - including low carbon structural materials) has several joint projects with international Centres of Excellence. Further information about our research groups can be found on the School website.
    https://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/NBE/Disciplines/civil-and-structural-engineering/
Key Facts

  • Civil Engineering at Queens is in the Top 200 in the World QS Rankings (2020).
  • As a Russell Group university and ranked No. 19 in the Guardian League tables (2018), Queen’s is one of the best places in the UK to study Civil Engineering.

Course content

Research Information

Associated Research
The dynamic nature of this research has been key to the CERC's success in attracting significant funding from UK research councils, government departments and agencies. CERC generated £11.5m in external research income during the last Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) 5-year period.
The Civil Engineering Research Centre (CERC) is a leading international, interdisciplinary centre that enables scientists and engineers from all areas of civil engineering investigation to work on diverse, yet complementary research.
A special feature of the CERC is the extensive and diverse range of research topics being researched by students and staff in the Centre.

Career Prospects

Introduction
Many of our PhD graduates have moved into academic and research roles in Higher Education while others go on to play leading roles in educational practice, the public sector or within NGO’s. Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability. For further information on career opportunities at PhD level please contact the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences Student Recruitment Team on askEPS@qub.ac.uk. Our advisors - in consultation with the School - will be happy to provide further information on your research area, possible career prospects and your research application.

People teaching you

Dr Giuseppina Amato
Lecturer
Natural and Built Environment
g.amato@qub.ac.uk

Dr Mohammed Sonebi
Senior Lecturer
Natural and Built Environment
m.sonebi@qub.ac.uk

Dr Raymond Flynn
Senior Lecturer
Natural and Built Environment
r.flynn@qub.ac.uk

Dr Rory Doherty
Senior Lecturer
Natural and Built Environment
r.doherty@qub.ac.uk

Dr Sree Nanukuttan
Senior Lecturer
Natural and Built Environment
s.nanukuttan@qub.ac.uk

Professor G Hamill
Professor
Natural and Built Environment
g.a.hamill@qub.ac.uk

Professor Marios Soutsos
Professor
Natural and Built Environment
m.soutsos@qub.ac.uk

Professor Wei Sha
Professor
Natural and Built Environment
w.sha@qub.ac.uk

Learning Outcomes

A research degree offers students an opportunity to foster their capacity for independent research and critical thought. It also allows students to explore an area of interest and so understand and solve theoretical and practical problems within the field.

Undertaking a research degree also enhances a student’s written and oral communication skills, and a PhD is almost always a formal requirement for an academic post.

Course structure

A PhD is awarded for original research in a topic chosen by the student. PhD studies may be undertaken on a full (3 years) or part-time (6 years) basis.

Research students are appointed a primary and secondary supervisor who will guide them through their research, supported by an independent panel reviewing students’ progress.

This independent research is complemented by programmes of training, provided both by the School of Natural and Built Environment and by Queen’s Graduate School.

Assessment

Assessment processes for the research degree differ from taught degrees. Students will be expected to present drafts of their work at regular intervals to their supervisor who will provide written and oral feedback; a formal assessment process takes place annually.

This Annual Progress Review requires students to present their work in writing and orally to a panel of academics from within the School. Successful completion of this process will allow students to register for the next academic year.

The final assessment of the doctoral degree is both oral and written. Students will submit their thesis to an internal and external examining team who will review the written thesis before inviting the student to orally defend their work at a Viva Voce.

Feedback

Supervisors will offer feedback on draft work at regular intervals throughout the period of registration on the degree.

Entrance requirements

Graduate
The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School.

International Students

For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

English Language Requirements

Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years.

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be offering Academic English and Pre-sessional courses online only from June to September 2020.

  • Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
  • Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.

Tuition Fees

Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £4,500
Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £4,500
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £4,500
EU Other 3 £22,000
International £22,000

1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

For further information please refer to www.qub.ac.uk/brexit-advice/information-for-students.

More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

Civil Engineering costs

There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.

Additional course costs

All Students

Depending on the programme of study, there may also be other extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies . Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £100 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, and library fines. In undertaking a research project students may incur costs associated with transport and/or materials, and there will also be additional costs for printing and binding the thesis. There may also be individually tailored research project expenses and students should consult directly with the School for further information.

How do I fund my study?
1.PhD Opportunities

Find PhD opportunities and funded studentships by subject area.

2.Funded Doctoral Training Programmes

We offer numerous opportunities for funded doctoral study in a world-class research environment. Our centres and partnerships, aim to seek out and nurture outstanding postgraduate research students, and provide targeted training and skills development.

3.PhD loans

The Government offers doctoral loans of up to £26,445 for PhDs and equivalent postgraduate research programmes for English- or Welsh-resident UK and EU students, £10,000 for students in Scotland and up to £5,500 for Northern Ireland students.

4.International Scholarships

Information on Postgraduate Research scholarships for international students.

Funding and Scholarships

The Funding & Scholarship Finder helps prospective and current students find funding to help cover costs towards a whole range of study related expenses.

How to Apply

Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal go.qub.ac.uk/pgapply and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

Find a supervisor

If you're interested in a particular project, we suggest you contact the relevant academic before you apply, to introduce yourself and ask questions.

To find a potential supervisor aligned with your area of interest, or if you are unsure of who to contact, look through the staff profiles linked here.

You might be asked to provide a short outline of your proposal to help us identify potential supervisors.