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Funded PhD Opportunity

Optimisation of composite properties in the third dimension-Composite reinforced composites.

Subject: Engineering


The aim of this work is to improve composite performance and enhance the through-thickness stiffness and strain to failure by addition of nano-enhanced thermoplastic composite stitching, thereby tailoring the out-of-plane properties to the loading condition.  This work will build on collaboration with Institut für Flugzeugbau (IFB), Universität Stuttgart, an Aerospace OEM, Axis Composites, Patras University, Ulster University and Delhi Institute of Technology.                                                                                          On application of out-of-Plane Stresses in laminated composites the through-the-thickness or z-axis direction strength is notoriously weak, thus out-of-plane stresses are often the cause of premature failure. The induced out-of-plane stresses arise due to component geometries or the presence of damage. Delaminations are matrix cracks that lie in the plane of the laminate between plies. Structural instability under compressive loading is of greatest concern in the presence of delaminations. Various methods have been developed to improve the out-of-plane performance including z-pinning or resin toughening; one method that is becoming increasingly successful is to reinforce composites with a fibre that connects the layers together running from the upper to lower surface of the laminate.

This project will build on previous EPSRC funded research and international collaboration to develop the optimum stitch yarn properties using empirical and analytical methods, and then use polymer processing and textile technology to produce the optimised composite. The outcome of this project will provide a greater fundamental understanding of the manufacture and performance of thermoplastic stitched multi-axis, multi-layer reinforcements for advanced composite structures and place NI/UK in a much better position in this rapidly growing area. In particular the aerospace industry will be able to produce more efficient composite structures at a reduced cost. The academic community will also benefit since a new range of technical textiles will be available for analysis and further validation.

Essential criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £14,777 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 14,777 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 19 February 2018

Interview Date
Mid March 2018

Contact supervisor

Dr Edward Archer

Other supervisors


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