Job offer in Ireland PhD Studentship in Hierarchical carbon-fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites utilising graphene nanoflakes at Ulster University

Applications are invited for a funded PhD studentship tenable in the Faculty of Computing & Engineering at the Jordanstown Campus.  Please note that a faculty reorganisation is underway at Ulster and this studentship will be based within the new structure in the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment.

Project Summary:

This project is a collaboration between Ulster University and Queen’s University of Belfast and aims on the development of a novel multifunctional composite structure with boosted through thickness mechanical properties and bulk electrical conductivity. In recent years we have seen a gradual migration from metallic aeronautical structures to light weight composite structures, particularly CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastics), driven by new requirements for cost efficiency and ecological policies for more environmentally friendly aircraft. Unfortunately, the growth of CFRP composites use has been slower than predicted, due to lack of clear advancement in performance. For example, while properties in the plane of the microfibers are strong, stiff, and tailorable, the interlaminar region is relatively weak, leading to failure. Another shortcoming is related to the loss of intrinsic electrical conductivity of the composite, which has a direct effect on the electrical functions of the structures.

The project aims to provide a solution to these problems by proposing a new approach which is based on the direct integration of radially oriented graphene nanoflakes (GNF), onto carbon fibers. These conductive self-assembled oriented nanostructures are robust and provide a high surface area to the surrounding epoxy matrix, which should facilitate increased fracture toughness and efficient electron transport in the produced laminates. The research student will fabricate and test the laminates using state-of-the-art facilities in the Engineering Research Institute (ERI) and Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre in Belfast (NIACE). S/he will work as part of a larger project research team of established researchers and PhD students working in advanced materials and composites engineering at Ulster and QUB. The project is supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR).  The candidate applying for this PhD project should have interest in polymer composites (fabrication/processing and mechanical/electrical characterization) as well as in aspects related to nanomaterials (e.g. properties, characterization, synthesis etc.). Applications are particularly encouraged from graduates with an Electrical, Mechanical, Polymer or Physical, Materials Science Engineering background

Entrance Requirements: 

Candidates should have ordinary EU residence and should hold a first or upper second class honours degree in Engineering, Physical Sciences, or a cognate area. Applications will be considered on a competitive basis with regard to the candidate’s qualifications, skills experience and interests.  Successful candidates will enrol on 1st October 2017, on a full-time programme of research studies leading to the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

The studentship will comprise fees together with an annual stipend of £14,553 and will be awarded for a period of up to three years subject to satisfactory progress.  

If you wish to discuss your proposal or receive advice on this project please contact:-

Professor Pagona Papakonstantinou, ;


For more information on applying go to

Apply online

The closing date for receipt of completed applications is 28 May 2017

Interviews will be held in June 2017