Microstructure and micromechanics of dissimilar joints for fusion power plants

This fully funded PhD project is an exciting opportunity to make a contribution to the realisation of nuclear fusion. 

Start date
1 July 2021
3.5 years
Application deadline
Funding source
The University of Surrey, Project-led Studentship Award.
Funding information

The funding package for this studentship award is as follows: 

  • Full UK/EU tuition fee  
  • Stipend at £15,285 p.a. (2020/21)  
  • RTSG of £1,000 p.a.  


Brazing and welding are two promising approaches to join dissimilar metals for manufacturing engineering components. Residual stress is a side effect inherited from joining processes and can limit the service life of the components. The design of the next fusion device, which follows the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), aims to focus on the engineering and materials aspects of fusion. To complete code and standard design of the next fusion reactor by around 2030, the problems and options related to the integration of advanced materials, joining technique and structural integrity assessment need to be investigated. Therefore, it is timely to apply newly emerged state-of-the-art techniques to examine the critical structural and mechanical behaviour of Tungsten (W) and copper-chromium-zirconium (CuCrZr) brazed joints. The outcome of this project will provide a significant contribution to the design and structural integrity assessment of the next fusion power plant.

This interdisciplinary PhD project allows close collaboration between the School of Mechanical Engineering Sciences at Surrey and Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) to create new knowledge and address challenging problems for fusion materials, using complementary world-leading facilities. The successful candidate will engage in the microstructure characterisation and micromechanical evaluation activities, using advanced experimental mechanical microscopy, such as in situ and in-SEM nanoindentation and Xe+ plasma focused ion beam-digital image correlation (PFIB-DIC) techniques available at the School of Mechanical Engineering Sciences at the University of Surrey and multi-scale mechanical testing at CCFE/UKAEA. The proposed project provides a significant contribution to the ultimate objective of performing structural integrity assessment of the DEMO fusion power plant with improved accuracy and efficiency.

The first supervisor, Dr Tan Sui, has the expertise involving micromechanics and micron-scale residual stress evaluation using mechanical microscopy including synchrotron X-ray, focused ion beam (FIB) and digital image correlation (DIC) and in situ nanoindentation techniques.

The second supervisor, Dr Mark Whiting, has the expertise in metallurgy as well as advanced characterisations using SEM, TEM and EBSD techniques. 

The industrial supervisor, Dr Yiqiang Wang has extensive knowledge on the structural integrity assessment of fusion power plants and neutron-based imaging and diffraction techniques at large facilities.

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).

This studentship is available to UK and EU applicants.

IELTS requirements: If English is not the first language, IELTS 6.5 or above (or equivalent) is required, with no sub-test score less than 6.

How to apply

Application should be made through the Engineering Materials PhD programme page.

Application enquiries are recommended prior to submission and can be directly made to Dr Tan Sui or Dr Mark Whiting.

Application deadline

Contact details

Tan Sui
18A AC 03
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 689670
E-mail: t.sui@surrey.ac.uk

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