Postgraduate research

Diamond coatings for antibacterial applications in Space

Qualification: PhD

Department: School of Engineering

Application deadline: 31 May 2023

Start date: 25 September 2023



Project description

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship, supported by the Lloyds Registrar Foundation and Teer Coatings Ltd, to be undertaken within the School of Engineering at the University of Leicester. The successful applicant will explore new diamond coatings for antibacterial applications in space. 

In 2020, the space sector underpinned approximately 15% of the UK’s economic activity and this is forecast to grow significantly. Building upon the heritage and space-science excellence of the University of Leicester, our research aims to support this growth, boosting economic performance in the country, maintaining the UK’s industrial competitiveness.  In space, potentially dangerous bacterial and fungi are living on space stations and spacecraft right now, but we have no idea if they’re harmful for astronauts and scientists need to do much more research to figure that out. These bacterial and fungi can also corrode and degrade various materials of the space station, leading to space station equipment failure, platform failure and sealing decline. The project is focused on exploiting the disruptive innovation involving diamonds coatings to address the problem of bacterial and fungal growth in space environment. Thanks to its extreme physical, tribological and thermal properties in addition to tailorable surface functionality and chemical inertness, diamond-based materials have enabled many advanced electronic and biomedical applications.  Surface functionalised diamond will add antibacterial/antifungal functionality to the hard and wear resistant aspects of that coating.

The project will involve but is not limited to:
  • Develop the growth of plain diamond films, diamond-like carbon films on a range of surfaces relevant to space applications using CVD and PVD techniques 
  • Develop methods to chemically modify the coating’s surfaces by incorporating silver (Ag) and copper (Cu) into the developed coatings. 
  • Evaluate the antibacterial activities of the developed coatings 
  • Evaluate the antibacterial performance of the most optimized coatings identified in a simulated space environment. 
  • Training in PVD and CVD techniques and surface science characterisation techniques
  • Investigation of prepared surfaces in different applications, comparison against state-of –the-art mechanically polished and plasma etched surfaces

The research will be carried out in the School of Engineering in close collaboration with our industrial partners: Teer Coatings Ltd, National Space Centre and Space Park Leicester. 

Project to commence September 2023 (earlier start may be possible for UK students)

Previous applicants need not apply.



This 3-year PhD studentship provides:

  • UK tuition fee waiver
  • Annual stipend at UKRI rates currently £17,668 for 2022/23. (2023/4 rates still to be confirmed)

International applicants will need to pay the difference between UK and Overseas fees.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Applicants must hold a UK first or upper second-class degree (or overseas equivalent) in Materials, Physics, Engineering or Chemistry (or related subjects). 

The University of Leicester English language requirements apply.

Informal enquiries

Informal enquiries

Project enquiries:

Application enquiries:

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 Engineering Prof Ye studentship
  • Include supervisor's name and project title in the space provided. You do not need a research proposal.




Open to UK and International* students

*International students refer to funding information.

Applicants holding EU Settled and Pre-Settled status, we will require a UK government share code so that we can verify your status (The share code we require starts with S).  Please email your share code together with your application ID to once you have submitted your PhD application.

Previous applicants need not apply

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