Fully-funded PhD Studentship Investigating Precious Metal Shape Memory Alloys

A PhD scholarship in high energy is available at University of Cambridge. Successful candidate will have funding to work and study for 3 years in UK. Applicants should apply before December 31, 2018.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 3 years in the first instance. Sponsor: The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship investigating the transformational behaviour of precious metal containing shape memory alloys under the supervision of Dr Nicholas Jones, in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge.

Shape memory alloys and materials that undergo related phenomena combine two key characteristic; being able to both sustain reasonable mechanical loads and offer functional behaviour through macroscopic movement. As a result, huge opportunities for these materials exist across a wide spectrum of industrial sectors but fundamental research is required to identify suitable alloy systems, understand their underlying behaviour and tailor their properties to a given application.

The shape memory world is dominated by binary NiTi alloys, which transform in the range of ~ 0 to 80C. However, many potential applications require higher temperature capability, for example between 200 and 500C, and so considerable effort has been spent investigating the effect of ternary additions on the transformation behaviour. Of the wide range of elements considered to date, only Hf, Pd and Pt achieved any significant elevating effect. However, little attention has been paid to higher order precious metal (PM) containing alloys and, there has also been relatively little information relating to potential PM-based alloys, despite some systems showing promise. As such, this project will enhance our understanding of theses alloys by investigating the influence of PM additions on transforming materials.

The research will require the preparation of selected compositions via vacuum arc melting followed by heat treatment. Alloys will be subject to detailed characterisation using scanning and transmission electron microscopy, differential scanning calorimetery and X-ray diffraction as well as an evaluation of their thermo-mechanical behaviour. It is also envisaged that the mechanics of their transformation behaviour will be studied in situ using high energy X-ray diffraction at international synchrotron facilities.

Applicants should have (or expect to be awarded) an upper second or first-class UK honours degree at the level of MSci, MEng (or overseas equivalents) in a relevant subject (Materials Science, Physics, Chemistry) and should be liable for ‘home rate’ fees to be eligible for a studentship. The studentship is fully funded, covering fees and a tax-free stipend of at least 18500 per annum.

Applications can be made on-line via

Further information on the application process is available from Dr Rosie Ward (

Informal enquiries may be made to Dr NG Jones by e-mail to


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