Enhancing the performance of ceramic armour and protective coatings

This project will explore the development of an innovative low temperature manufacturing technique for joining ceramics to metals.

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 be an opportunity to receive further payments for teaching duties undertaken in the department.


The performance of ceramic armour and protective coatings is critically dependent on the interface between the ceramic and the underlying substrate. This project will explore the development of an innovative low-temperature manufacturing technique for joining ceramics to metals.

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 lead to premature failure of the ceramic. 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 explore the use of metallic and ceramic nanoparticle composites to join metals and ceramics. The work will include the formulation of nanocomposites, processing and evaluation of the of ceramic-metal systems 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 processing of ceramic and metallic nanomaterials and the manufacture of functional devices.

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 Masters degree (distinction normally required).

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.

How to apply

Applications can be made through our Engineering Materials PhD course page. In your application, you must clearly state the title of this project and the lead supervisor.

Engineering Materials PhD

Contact details

Robert Dorey
30A AB 03
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 689608
E-mail: r.dorey@surrey.ac.uk
Mark J. Whiting
14 AB 03
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 689611
E-mail: M.Whiting@surrey.ac.uk

This PhD will be hosted by the Functional NanoMaterials research group.

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