Understanding and enhancing the mechanical performance of bioinspired dental composite

A funded multi-disciplinary project on structure-property relationship of bioinspired dental composite aiming for improved longevity and reliability of dental restorative products.

Start date

1 October 2019


3 years

Application deadline

Funding source

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Funding information

This research project has funding attached. The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a tax-free stipend of approximately £14,777 p.a., in line with standard RCUK stipend levels [2018-2019]. Studentships are open to overseas students provided they can support the difference between home and overseas fees (£16,540 p.a.).


This research programme is funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the New Investigator Scheme (Dr Tan Sui, the grant holder), and is a joint collaboration between universities of Surrey, Bristol and Birmingham, the National Physical Laboratory and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

Driven by the rising ageing population in the UK who suffer from oral disease and need dental treatment, there has been a growing demand for reliable dental restorative products (e.g. dental crowns) with significantly improved mechanical properties and longevity. Inspired by the natural tooth enamel with graded microstructure and extraordinary resistance to fracture, the primary focus of this project is to understand and enhance the mechanical performance of novel dental composites with bioinspired functionally graded and textured microstructures. We will provide a fundamental understanding of the role of bioinspired microstructural features that are important in determining the mechanical properties. We will do so using the advanced mechanical microscopy techniques and incorporating the characterised results into micromechanical numerical modelling. Our aim is to calibrate the model against the mechanical performance at macroscale and explore how the properties can be enhanced by microstructural optimisation. This will allow us to provide new insights into addressing the longevity challenge of dental restorative products.

The PhD candidate will need to engage actively with all the project partners. The main duty of the PhD candidate is to develop an experimentally-validated micromechanics model to predict the deformation and fracture process of zirconia-based and alumina-based bioinspired composite. The PhD candidate will also engage in advanced experimental mechanical microscopy techniques, high performance computing (HPC) cluster available at the University of Surrey as well as the UK’s word-leading synchrotron X-ray large-scale 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, biology or related subject).

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

How to apply

Formal applications must be made through the online application process under the apply tab on the Biomedical Engineering PhD course page.

Biomedical Engineering PhD

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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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