Adhesion of radiation cured coil coatings

The Group at the University of Surrey has collaborated with the sponsor, Becker Industrial Coatings for almost thirty years in the area of adhesion of coil coatings to a variety of metallic substrates. The focus for this work has been the superb range of surface chemical analysis instrumentation provided with The Surface Analysis Laboratory at Surrey. To date work has involved thermally cured coatings but this project will focus in the increasingly important area of radiation (e.g. UV light) cured coil coatings.

Start date

1 October 2024


3.5 years

Application deadline

Funding source

Becker Industrial Coatings

Funding information

Funding covers stipend of £21,000 pa and UK “home” tuition fees for 3.5 years. Funding is available to cover travel, conferences and consumables. Eligibility follows standard research council rules and include UK/Irish citizenship or ordinary residence within the UK for 3 years prior to the funding commencing, but please note that in the latter case only home fees will be covered.


Dating back over 150 years, Beckers is a true pioneer in providing unique, high-quality solutions that answer coating needs across many sectors. Currently Beckers is proud to be the global leader in supply of coil coatings from 24 locations in 18 countries. Currently the majority of coil coatings are applied to continuous wide metal strip and then thermally treated so as to induce gelation or crosslinking. Work with Surrey has developed many aspects of the current understanding about how this occurs at the molecular scale (eg:,, Currently this heating is carried out using gas-powered ovens which impart a high carbon footprint to the finished article. As part of the ongoing commitment to increasing the sustainability of coil coatings new methods of crosslinking that have significantly lower carbon footprints are being explored. One such method is to use UV or electron beam radiation (radcure) to initiate free radical polymerisation. As these new technologies are being introduced into the coil coating market, there is a requirement to understand how these radcure coatings adhere to each other, conventional coil coatings and metallic coil substrates (usually zinc-coated steel or aluminium).

The specific focus of the project will be on the inter-coat adhesion between different coating systems by comparing dual-cure and fully radcure systems to standard thermally cured coil coating. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) and Auger electron spectroscopy (AES) will be used to characterise the interface of different cured coating systems and establish the mechanism of adhesion for the different regimes. Leading to an understanding of how the different chemistries used in both radcure and thermal curing affect the inter-coat interface, and consequently what effect this has on adhesion. This has the potential to bring about new formulations with improved performance. The project will benefit with the active involvement of Dr Gustavo Trindade from the National Centre of Excellence in Mass Spectrometry Imaging (NiCE-MSI) at NPL, to support our ToF-SIMS activities.

Eligibility criteria

Open to candidates who pay UK/home rate fees. See UKCISA for further information.

Candidates must meet Surrey graduate entry requirements which include holding at least an upper second-class degree or equivalent qualifications in a relevant subject area such as physics, chemistry, materials science or engineering. A Master’s degree in a relevant discipline and additional research experience would be an advantage.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Engineering Materials PhD programme page. In place of a research proposal you should upload a document stating the title of the project that you wish to apply for and the name of the relevant supervisor.

Engineering Materials PhD

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Application deadline

Contact details

John F Watts
02 AB 03
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 689617

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