EngD in the oxidation and environmental degradation of non-oxide ceramics

An experimental study of the oxidation and environmental degradation of nitride-based ceramics to enable new applications of the material in next generation products.

Start date

1 October 2020


3.5 years

Application deadline

Funding source

The University of Surrey and Dyson

Funding information

3.5 years of stipend at £20,000 per annum and all fees paid.


Non-oxide ceramics have been selected as a future material system in a next generation Dyson product line. The properties of this material include good thermal conductivity, low thermal expansion, and good thermal shock resistance. This makes it an excellent candidate for this emerging technology. The manufacturing route selected also allows for novel geometries and form-factors to be explored, opening up the integration in further Dyson products.

Our understanding of the material is still developing, but two critical questions remain unanswered. One of the desires of next-generation materials systems is the ability to run at much higher temperatures to decrease product size. The literature reports that this material will not oxidise below temperatures of 800℃, so understanding and quantifying the effect this oxidation has on mechanical strength and its high-temperature dielectric breakdown are very important. Should these effects be detrimental to the life of the material, how can additional materials systems or doping strategies mitigate for this? A second issue is the effect of humidity on the oxidation temperature and mechanism, which has not been well reported in the literature. For successful expansion into future products it will be critical for Dyson to understand, design against this and secure the technology.

This project will aim to first quantify the oxidation rate at a range of high-temperatures in terms of mechanical and electrical properties, before investigating strategies to combat this to enable higher temperature operation without affecting the thermal conductivity. As the project evolves, the focus will turn to understand the role of water vapour on the oxidation rate and mechanisms with the objective being to quantify the effects of different humilities and different high temperatures on mechanical properties.

Related links

MiNMaT (Micro- and NanoMaterials and Technologies)

You will spend the majority of the programme time based at the sponsor site that is Dyson in Malmesbury Wiltshire.

Eligibility criteria

This project requires a first, upper second, or merit at masters in a physical sciences subject.

UK or EU students only. Please note we are not funded for international students.

IELTS: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with at least 7.0 in the writing component and at least 6.0 in the other components.

How to apply

Please contact the Centre Manager, Noelle Hartley, in the first instance to lodge an expression of interest in the project.

The Centre does not accept direct applications – it is important to contact the Centre Manager to discuss your interest at the earliest opportunity.

This project is part of the EPSRC CDT in MiNMaT.

References are taken up at interview stage.

University reserves the right to close the advert if a suitable candidate is found.

Micro- and NanoMaterials and Technologies (MiNMaT)

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Application deadline

Contact details

Noelle Hartley
05 AB 03
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 683467
E-mail: N.Hartley@surrey.ac.uk

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