Materials Science: EPSRC Funded PhD Studentship: Correlative Imaging of Structural Biomaterials

    Objectives of the project:

    Working within the Advanced Imaging of Materials (AIM) facility and research group, the successful PhD applicant will use correlated X-ray microtomography and electron microscopy to investigate the complex hierarchical structures within biomaterials, in particular mineralised structural biomaterials. This class of materials is extremely interesting to materials scientists. They are formed in ambient conditions and with limited resources in a specific environment, yet have properties that often exceed those of human-made materials which are conversely manufactured using costly processes and use expensive or limited material resources.

    There is huge potential to use natural materials and architectures for engineering design, yet these biomaterials aren’t fully understood. This project will investigate nano/micro structures, while considering their form and function, and adapting this for potential engineering applications that benefit society.

    The PhD studentship is based within Dr Richard Johnston’s research group, part of the new £10M Advanced Imaging of Materials (AIM) research group and multidisciplinary research facility, with a focus on correlative imaging.

    This project will also work closely with the Oyen Group at Cambridge University; experts in investigating the nanomechanical properties of biomaterials. This collaboration will facilitate the coupled investigation of structure (from CT and FIB-SEM) – property (nanoindentation) relationships of biomaterials, creating a powerful partnership for bioinspiration projects and beyond. Nanoindentation, and CT correlated with FIB-SEM will be used to characterise the material properties and nano/microstructure of a number of enigmatic biomaterials, possibly including marine organisms, insects, and vertebrates. Accurate material properties coupled with advanced imaging of micro/nanostructures are essential for modelling mechanical performance and function.

    The successful candidate will be expected to start their studentship in January.


    Applicants should hold a first or upper second class honours degree (or its equivalent) in engineering, physical sciences, mathematics, physics, chemistry, or biosciences, or a Master’s degree in a related subject area to the project.

    Due to funding restrictions, this studentship is open to UK/EU candidates only.


    The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a tax free stipend of £14,296 p.a. for three and a half years, in line with standard RCUK stipend levels.

    There will also be additional funds available for research expenses up to a value of £3000.

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