Microstructural Characterisation of thermally aged and creep-fatigued steels

Qualification: PhD

Department: School of Engineering

Application deadline: 30th September 2019

Start date: January 2020 or earlier if possible



Professor Bo Chen and Professor Hongbiao Dong

Project Description 

The key degradation mechanisms for the high-temperature nuclear reactors is the creep fatigue of steel components.  When structural materials (e.g. Type 316LN stainless steels) are used at high temperature, thermal ageing and inelastic deformation lead to changes in their microstructures [1].  The creep and creep-fatigue performance of structural materials are limited by the degradation of microstructures.  The underlying need is to develop improved understanding and predictive models of the evolution of the key microstructural features which control long-term creep performance and creep-fatigue interaction.

The aim of this PhD work is to use advanced materials characterisation techniques covering different length-scales to understand microstructural degradation as a result of high-temperature service for creep-resistant steels.

This project is partly funded by EPSRC through the SYNERgy programme (https://gow.epsrc.ukri.org/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/R043973/1).  You will need to engage with all the project partners that particularly include Universities of Oxford and Manchester.  The PhD candidates will have full access to all high-end microstructure characterisation facilities, mechanical testing facilities, and the UK’s word-leading neutron and synchrotron X-ray large-scale facilities.  This project also comes with financial supports for attending international meetings/workshops.



This PhD studentship comes with a stipend and fee waiver for 3.5 years.  

The fee waiver also cover a full overseas fee.  

The stipend is at the standard UKRI rates which for 2019 entry will be £15,009 per year.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Applicants are required to hold/or expect to obtain at least a UK Bachelor Degree 2:1  or overseas equivalent in materials, mechanical engineering or relevant subject area.  

The University of Leicester English language requirements apply where applicable.

In addition, successful applicants should meet the following:-

  • Familiar with mechanics of materials, preferably with some experience of analytical materials modelling
  • Or familiar with the physical metallurgy of materials and have basic knowledge of microstructural characterisation
  • A basic computer programming/coding skill

Informal enquiries

Informal enquiries

Project / Funding Enquiries: Engineering PGR Office engineeringpgr@le.ac.uk

Application enquiries:  PGR Admissions pgradmissions@le.ac.uk 

How to apply

How to apply

To apply please use the Apply button at the bottom of the page. 

In the funding section of the application please indicate you wish to be considered for Bo Chen Project 1 Studentship.

In the proposal section, please provide the name of the supervisor and project.

Include a personal statement explaining your interest in the project and why we should consider you together with degree certificates, transcripts, CV, references and evidence of English proficiency where applicable.



The project and studentship are available to UK/EU and Overseas applicants who meet the entry criteria.