Investigation of microstructure, micro-residual stress and strain evolution in novel bioinspired biocomposites using time-resolved 3D micro-X-ray diffraction tomography

This fully funded PhD project is an exciting opportunity to develop experimental methodologies to addressing diverse next-generation material evaluation and development.

Start date

1 October 2023


3.5 years

Application deadline

Funding source

Diamond Light Source Studentship 2023

Funding information

  • Home fee allowance (£4,500) with automatic increase to UKRI rate each year
  • A stipend of £20,198 for 22/23, which will increase each year in line with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) rate.

Benefits of Diamond's jointly funded studentships:

  • Worldclass facilities: Access to Diamond's facilities and beamtime (if applicable and subject to peer review) throughout our studentships
  • Enhanced stipend £20,198 (£2,000 inclusive): Joint Diamond funded studentships attract an enhanced stipend rate for students of around £2,000 per annum above the UKRI minimum rate
  • Conference allowance: Studentships include funding provided by all partners to attend conferences
  • Travel/accommodation allowance: Studentships include funding to support travel and accommodation to/from Diamond and University of Surrey
  • Student support: Diamond has a dedicated Student Engagement team to support students throughout their studentship. Students also have access to the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) via Diamond as well as free corporate access to Headspace.


Tooth decay is a major healthcare challenge that affects over 40% of the world’s population. Over time, around 30% of dentate adults in England have oral disease such as tooth decay. Oral disease can have serious and lasting complications such as toothache, swelling, and can even give rise to chewing and breathing problem, alongside tooth loss. Driven by the ageing population in the UK who need complex dental care to restore and maintain their teeth throughout their lives, as well as the fact that over 37% of dentate adults in England have one or more crowns, there has been a growing demand for patient-specific dental restorative products (e.g. dental crowns) with increased longevity.

Inspired by the natural graded microstructure (e.g. nacre and enamel) and extraordinary resistance to fracture of teeth, the novel bioinspired dental materials fabricated by the cost-effective bi-directional freeze-casting method have shown promise as the next-generation dental crown materials. In this project, we seek to develop and apply, for the first time, an advanced time-resolved 3D micro-X-ray diffraction tomography combined with nanoindenter at beamline I18 to create a unique capability that will significantly extend our characterisation expertise. The project will enable significant understanding of the role of microstructure and microscale mechanical properties in determining the lifespan of a new class of novel bioinspired composite materials. This research will enable valuable insight into process-structure-property relationships in support of a cost-effective high-performance solution.

This project will establish a collaboration model to develop measurement technique. This will be performed within the multidisciplinary materials characterisation labs at the University of Surrey (Dr Tan Sui, Dr Mark Whiting), I18 beamline at the Diamond Light Source (Dr Konstantin Ignatyev) and bioinspired composites processing and fabrication at the University of Bristol (Prof Bo Su). The successful applicant will be expected to spend 50% of their studentship at Surrey, 50% at Diamond and regular visits to Bristol.

Supervisors: Dr Tan Sui & Dr Mark Whiting from University of Surrey, Dr Konstantin Ignatyev from Diamond Light Source Ltd, and Prof Bo Su from The University of Bristol.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least an Upper Second Bachelor’s degree, and preferably a Master’s degree, in an appropriate discipline (e.g. engineering, material sciences, physics, chemistry or a related subject)

IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with no sub-test score less than 6.

Further details can be found under the entry requirements tab on the Engineering Materials PhD course page.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Engineering Materials PhD programme page on the "Apply" tab. Please clearly state the studentship title and supervisor on your application.

Application enquiries are recommended prior to submission and can be directly made to Dr Tan Sui (  and Dr Konstantin Ignatyev (

Studentship FAQs

Read our studentship FAQs to find out more about applying and funding.

Application deadline

Contact details

Tan Sui
18A AC 03
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 689670

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