University: University of Nottingham. Supervisor:  Prof Adam Clare, Dr Alistair Speidel  Start date: October 2021

The properties of crystalline materials are defined by their microstructures, the absolute and relative orientations of their grains, their respective metallurgies, stresses, and defects. Most manufacturing operations impart changes to the surface, which often detrimentally affect the surface microstructure and the readiness with which a part can be applied in service. While processing technologies have advanced rapidly, accompanying mapping methodologies required to keep pace have lagged. Traditional methods to measure such changes are largely destructive and cannot be undertaken at ambient conditions. 

The student will pioneer a world-first automated methodology to unveil and map surface microstructures and volumes using localised electrochemical jets (Figure 1), taking the laboratory to the factory floor. Material response to electrochemical analysis is influenced by composition, metallurgy, orientation, and surface stress condition of the material. As such, the student will devise new capabilities to understand surface conditions resulting from manufacturing processes through concurrent surface analysis and data correlation approaches. 

Figure 1 – Electrochemical processing used to perform surface integrity analysis 

This is an excellent opportunity for a motivated candidate with broad engineering experience. The candidate will have an interest in practical laboratory work, system design, surface characterisation, and image processing. Laboratory tours can be provided, and informal project enquiries are encouraged. The research will entail enhancing the ambient condition crystallographic orientation mapping fidelity with scope for empirical and simulation-based approaches on analysing etched surfaces, creating electrochemical sectioning methodologies to map material properties in the near-surface at appropriate length scales (>100 µm – <1 µm), devising world-unique methodologies to infer residual stresses in surfaces in-jet in real time, and understanding the requirements of industrial practitioners worldwide and aligning research to accommodate these 

Informal enquiries to adam.clare@nottingham.ac.uk or alistair.speidel@nottingham.ac.uk 

Funding: 

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.