PhD in Smart Materials

Project Title: Synthesis and Characterization of Piezoelectric Composites for Sensing and Actuation

Project Description:
Piezoelectric materials are one class of smart materials which convert any kind of strain into electricity and vice versa. Due to the superior material properties, piezoelectric can be used in for a variety of applications including sensing and Human Machine Interfaces. With increase in smart devices, the need for such low cost and efficient ‘’smart materials’’ is high.
Ceramics are commercially used due to their excellent piezoelectric properties compared to their polymeric counterparts. However, high processing cost and brittleness of piezoelectric ceramics limit their use in applications demanding flexibility and ease of integration. By combining ceramics and polymers, piezoelectric properties can be improved up to 5 times. An intensive research is currently being conducted to produce a highly sensitive flexible material that can replace PVDF which is an expensive material. It has been proven that low dielectric constant materials help in achieving higher sensitivities in the composite. Unlike conventional ceramic or polymeric piezoelectric materials, these composites are easy to manufacture and also prove cost effective.

Therefore, the proposed research aims to develop state of the art lead free piezoelectric composites which can be used for actuation and sensing applications. The new and innovative ceramic filler will first be synthesised by different techniques followed by their incorporation into polymer matrices, with an ultimate goal to improve properties of established piezoelectric composite. The success of the research will depend upon selection of a processing routes and insight into materials selection criteria. These composites will be characterized using scanning electron microscope (SEM), x-ray diffraction (XRD) and other electric and mechanical characterization equipment. After successful synthesis and characterization of the composites, these will be tested for automotive applications.
Applicants with degrees in Materials Science/Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, or a related subject with a materials component will be preferred. Knowledge of fundamental electrical engineering is highly desirable.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:
Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see  

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF18/…) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: 28 January 2018
Start Date: 1 October 2018

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.
Faculty: Engineering and Environment
Department: Mechanical and Construction Engineering
Principal Supervisor: Dr Jibran Khaliq (Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering)

Funding Notes
The studentship includes a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2017/18, this is £14,553 pa) and fees (Home/EU £4,450 / International £13,500).