Micromechanics of deformation and damage in composite materials

Composite materials are versatile materials and have found increased use in all areas of engineering where high strength and low weight materials are needed. The unique characteristics of these materials at different length scales poses a challenge in understanding the mechanical behaviour which is essential for reliable and robust design. Most of the current material models are based on continuum mechanics which although, appropriate under certain settings do not fully integrate the phenomena at microscopic scale such as debonding of fibres and matrix, initial crack network and failure of individual fibres within the composite materials. Although there has been steady development of models that address selected micromechanical aspects, the models are limited due to lack of quality experimental data for calibration. The current project intends to address this gap in the knowledge.

This aim of the project is to understand the microscopic phenomena associated with deformation and damage at elemental level (e.g. fibre, matrix, interface) to develop a robust multiscale modelling framework. The aim of the project is achieved through the following objectives:

  1. Determination of macroscopic properties (e.g. mechanical strength, elastic modulus) of selected composite materials in the laboratory.
  2. Acquisition of 3D x-ray and neutron tomograms for selected composite materials under uniaxial and biaxial states of stress.
  3. Undertaking segmentation of the acquired tomograms to identify, extract and quantify the microscopic features relating to deformation and damage.
  4. Undertake micromechanical modelling of the composite material and calibrate using the acquired data from 3D tomography.
  5. Formulate a multiscale framework and validate using the data acquired in the laboratory.

The prospective candidate would participate in the design of testing facility and subsequently undertake experiments at beamline facilities.

The student will be part of Composites Group within the Institute of Materials and Processes and join a vibrant community of PhD students, post-doctoral associates and academics working in various aspects of composite material characterisation, design, processing and testing. Composites Group  house  some very exciting test facilities such as FASTBLADE, a unique full scale testing facility for blades of tidal turbines.

Further Information: 


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Closing Date: 

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Principal Supervisor: 

Assistant Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in mechanical engineering or physics/applied mathematics, possibly supported by an MSc Degree.

Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Tuition fees and stipend are available for Home/EU and International students.

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: