PhD Studentship 2013-2014 Lightning Strike Protection on Advanced Composite Aerostructures Using Nanotechnology

An exciting opportunity exists for an outstanding candidate to help develop the next generation of advanced composite aerostructures with improved lightning strike protection.

Carbon fibre composites now account for over 50% of the empty weight of the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787. Their superior specific strength and stiffness, corrosion resistance and fatigue performance are tempered by their lower electrical conductivity compared to aluminium alloys. As a consequence, a fine copper mesh is usually incorporated into the surface of a composite laminate to increase electrical conductivity. This invariably adds non-structural weight to the airframe. This project will explore the effectiveness of introducing various graphene-based nanostructures, within the composite, to increase electrical conductivity. A number of strategies will be explored to identify the most promising approach for further investigation. Representative nano-enhanced demonstrator panels will be tested in a purpose-built lighting laboratory and the extent of damage assessed using ultrasonic non-destructive techniques. These panels will be tested to failure to examine their residual strength and compared to control specimens.

Queen’s University Belfast is a member of the Russell Group (the UK’s leading research-intensive universities) and the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering was rated in the top 10 UK Engineering Schools in the last Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008). The studentship provides fees and a tax-free stipend of £13,590 p.a. For further details on eligibility for funding and useful information for prospective research students please read the information at

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Applicants should hold or expect to hold a 2.1 Hons (or equivalent) degree in a relevant discipline. Applications are invited to be made electronically through the Queen’s online application portal, via the ‘Apply’ button below, and close on Friday 30th August 2013.

Informal inquiries may be addressed to Prof Brian G. Falzon (email:

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