University: University of Nottingham. Supervisor: Prof. Richard Smith, Prof. Matt Start date: October 2021

Materials used in performance engineering (e.g. metals and alloys) are made up of crystals (or grains) and the size, orientation and distribution of these crystals, (microstructure) plays a significant role in determining the material characteristics. Controlling this microstructure is one of the pivotal technologies that underpins advanced manufacturing. Traditionally this control is achieved through complex forging, processing, and heat treatments and so the development of new materials is a slow and highly expensive business. By integrating microstructure inspection with the material production process in an on-line capacity, it would be possible to directly link the production parameters with an immediate change to the material microstructure.  

This presents an amazing opportunity whereby we develop techniques to “print” the microstructure we require for optimal performance on demand. There are two major challenges to this: the first is to monitor the microstructure down to the orientation of a single grain as the material is built and the second is to be able to tweak the build to steer the microstructure in the right direction. 

This project integrates state-of-the-art NDE through SRAS imaging with state-of-the-art material production utilising advanced additive manufacturing techniques to realise a system that can not only equal but surpass traditional manufacture material performance and compress years of materials development into minutes of build time. 


Figure 1 – Development of closed loop control of microstructure during build 


The University of Nottingham was recently awarded £1.8m for the development of the world’s first AM facility with online inspection. This aligned PhD project is to develop instrumentation at the cut-ting edge of performance and is highly complex. Candidates should have a background in Engineering or experimental Physics. During the project you will develop exceptional experimental, design and practical skills across a range disciplines, and develop skills in signal processing and materials science. You will be joining two internationally renowned teams in optics and ultrasonics, and additive manufacturing, with strong track records of innovation.  

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This studentship covers fees at the home/EU rate, a stipend of £16877 per annum and the full technical and professional training programme as part of the FIND CDT.