Postgraduate research

Correlative Analysis of Engineering Alloys in 3D

Qualification: PhD

Department: School of Engineering

Application deadline: 7 June 2023

Start date: 25 September 2023


Supervisors: Prof Bo Chen and  Dr Elsiddig Elmukashfi

Project Description:

The material performance of engineering alloys is highly dependent on its crystal properties. Microstructure characterisation is critical to the understanding of the key features that control the mechanical behaviour of materials. Our current knowledge about the interrelationship between the microstructure and property is mainly based upon the 2D cross-section observations. The need for developing a 3D materials characterisation capability is not only driven by the microscope developers, but also becomes essential for scientists/engineers working in the materials and structural integrity field. For example, a key limitation in model prediction of additively manufactured austenitic stainless steels is the lack of crystal orientation gradients. The 3D visualisation of crystal misorientations in significantly larger volumes will benefit many additively manufactured alloys. Another example is for understanding the role of microstructure inhomogeneity on the sub-surface fatigue cracking of near-alpha titanium alloys. Identifying the region of interest embedded deep in a sample, before and after the fatigue loading, and allowing a 3D characterisation of a large volume of a peculiar cluster of grains are required to predict the initiation of fatigue cracks and their early-stage growth behaviour.

The aim of this PhD is to innovate and demonstrate a transformative workflow of both multi-modal and multi-scale characterisation of crystalline materials, across the length scale from centimetres to nanometres. You will be working with a senior experimental officer on the UK’s first-of-its-kind equipment, which consists of a diffraction contrast tomography capable computed tomography (micro-CT) scanner and a focused ion beam scanning electron microscope (FIB-SEM) with an airlock-mounted fs-laser ablation system. You will be under the main supervision of two academics and one industrial expert to start working on a single-phase polycrystalline material, and then moving towards complex engineering alloys to unlock the full potential of this unique workflow.

To apply

Please refer to the eligibility, funding and how to apply sections further down the page. The application link is at the bottom of this web page.



This 3-year PhD studentship, jointly funded by Carl Zeiss Limited, provides:

UK applicants can expect to receive:

  • UK tuition fee waiver
  • Enhanced Annual stipend of at least £20,000 per year

International applicants can expect to receive:

  • Stipend at UKRI rates which for 2022/3 are £17,668 per year (2023/4 rates to be confirmed)
  • A partial tuition fee waiver. International students will be expected to pay £6472 towards their tuition fee.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Applicants must have (or expect to obtain) at least a UK first or upper second-class degree in Materials, Physics, Engineering or Chemistry (or related subjects). Or overseas equivalent.  

The University of Leicester English language requirements apply.

In addition, successful applicants should meet the following

  • Familiar with mechanics of materials (or physical metallurgy of steels or relevant metallic materials) preferably with some experience of microstructure characterisation
  • Demonstrable experience with Matlab and computer programming/coding, preferably with numerical simulation software (e.g. ABAQUS)

Informal enquiries

Informal enquiries

Application enquiries to: 

How to apply

How to apply

To submit your application, please use the Apply button at the bottom of the page and select September 2023 from the dropdown menu.

Include with your application:

  • CV
  • Degree certificates and transcripts
  • Details of any study currently in progress
  • Personal statement outlining why you wish to be considered for the studentship
  • Evidence of English language proficiency (if applicable)
  • In the reference section please enter the contact details of your two academic referees in the boxes provided or upload letters of reference if already available
  • In the Fees and Funding section please specify that you wish to be considered for the ENG Bo Chen CZL studentship
  • Include supervisor's name and project title in the space provided. You do not need a research proposal.

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