Postgraduate research

Oxide-dispersion-strengthened Steels for High Temperature Fusion

Qualification: PhD

Department: School of Engineering

Application deadline: 3 April 2023

Start date: 25 September 2023



Project description

The landscaping report of the UK Fusion Materials Roadmap 2021-2040, has identified a major R&D area, that is to develop the next-generation high-temperature steels with engineering assurance for enabling a fusion power plant. The deuterium-tritium fusion reactor environment represents one of the most demanding environments the engineering materials will face, with the combination of elevated temperatures at or above 650 degrees celcius under loads (e.g. creep and fatigue) and significant neutron irradiation. 

Oxide dispersion strengthened (ODS) steels containing high number density of nano-oxide particles can effectively pin the sub-micron ferritic grains rendering enhanced high-temperature creep performance, and act as sinks/traps for irradiation defects providing excellent resistance to fusion neutron-induced property degradation. However, a major challenge that prevents the wider adoption of ODS steels is the high cost, inhomogeneous microstructure and anisotropic property associated with the powder metallurgy fabrication at the present time. In partnership with the UKAEA (e.g. two industrial supervisors), this PhD project will focus on the process control of ODS steels fabricated by hot isostatic pressing (HIP) to achieve a better microstructure control and high-temperature mechanical performance. The overarching aim is to understand mechanisms and predict densification behaviour and microstructure evolution during HIP process of oxide-dispersion-strengthened (ODS) steels in order to obtain the optimum microstructural and mechanical properties at 650 degrees celcius and above.

The research is ultimately aligned to both the UK and global initiatives addressing two areas of the Engineering Net Zero and Sustainable Manufacturing. The success of the PhD project will contribute to our knowledge about two of the cross-sector materials degradation mechanisms (e.g. creep and fatigue), and help creating technological solutions to decarbonise our economy and society.



This 3.5 year PhD Studentship provides:

  • Tuition fee waiver
  • Annual stipend at UKRI rates (£17,668 for 2022/23. TBC for 2023/24)

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Applicants are required to hold/or expect to obtain at least a UK Bachelor's Degree 2:1 or better, or overseas equivalent in mechanics of materials, materials science, 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 (or physical metallurgy of steels or relevant metallic materials)
  • Preferably with demonstrable experience of analytical and/or numerical materials modelling, via Matlab, computer programming/coding, and/or numerical simulation software (e.g. ABAQUS)
  • Working experience in operating focused ion beam and X-ray tomography including data analysis.

Informal enquiries

Informal enquiries

Project enquiries

Application enquiries

How to apply

How to apply

To apply, please use the 'Apply' button at the bottom of the page and select September 2023 from the dropdown menu.

With your application, please include:

  • CV
  • Personal statement explaining your interest in the project, your experience and why we should consider you
  • Degree Certificates and Transcripts of study already completed and if possible transcript to date of study currently being undertaken
  • 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 funding section please specify that you wish to be considered for the Professor Bo Chen Studentship
  • In the proposal section please provide the name of the project supervisors and project title (a proposal is not required)



UK and International applicants.

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