Development of Ceramic-Metal interfaces for harsh environment applications

This project will explore the development of an innovative inorganic metal-ceramic joining compound designed to maximise strain energy transfer across the interface over a wide range of operating temperatures.


3 years

Application deadline

Funding source

University of Surrey

Funding information

A tax free stipend of £16,000 per year will be provided over the 3 year duration of the PhD. The studentship will also cover UK university fees. There will also be an opportunity receive further payments for teaching duties undertaken in the department.

UK students only.


The transmission of strain energy across metal-metal ceramic interfaces is critically important in a number of applications including ultrasound transducers, ceramic armour, piezoelectric sensors, thermoelectric generators, and electronic components.

Joining ceramics and metals, while ensuring the final product exhibits adequate performance and longevity, is exceptionally challenging. Where such bonding uses polymer adhesives high temperature application is severely restricted and the introduction of a material with dramatically different mechanical properties can act as a point of weakness and will disrupt the passage of strain energy across the interface. Conventional non-polymeric joining techniques (e.g. welding, brazing) are ill-suited for joining ceramics to metals due to the poor wettability of the ceramic by the metal, material incompatibilities and thermal stresses generated by the required high temperatures. Conversely advanced joining techniques (e.g. anodic bonding, diffusion bonding) require expensive equipment, very clean working environments and well prepared low-roughness surfaces.

This project will develop an inorganic ‘glue’ based on metallic and ceramic nanoparticles that will allow good bonding to both the metal and ceramic. The work will include both the development of the joining compound as well as the evaluation of its performance in terms of mechanical properties, transmission of strain energy across the interface, and performance under harsh environments (e.g. high humidly, temperature and strain energies). Property-process-microstructure relationships will be used to drive a deeper understanding of behaviour and failure mechanism in order to maximise performance. The project forms part of our clustered activity on metal-ceramic interfaces and will involve interaction with other PhD students and project partners including the National Physical Laboratory and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. The successful candidate will also be associated with the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Micro and Nano Materials and Technology.

The principal superior will be Professor Robert Dorey who is a leading authority on the manufacture of inorganic functional devices and the processing of ceramic and metallic inks.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants are expected to hold a first or upper-second class degree in a relevant discipline (or equivalent overseas qualification), or a lower second plus a good Masters degree (distinction normally required).

How to apply

Applicants should be able to demonstrate a suitable background in materials science through a relevant qualification in engineering materials, materials chemistry, materials physics or related discipline. Applicants are expected to hold a first or upper-second class degree or a lower second plus a distinction in a Masters degree

Candidates should apply for a Engineering Materials PhD, clearly stating the title of the project and lead supervisor, via Surrey’s online application portal available at the programme page.

Details of the research group in which the PhD will be hosted can be found here.

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Application deadline

Contact details

Robert Dorey
30A AB 03
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 689608

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