PhD Studentship Adhesion and Failure of High Performance Aerospace Coatings

Funding Status: EPSRC Industrial CASE award. Directly Funded Project (Due to funding restrictions, UK students only)

Application Deadline: 30 June 2013

Project Description

This project is concerned with high performance organic coatings employed for aerospace purposes. The Group at the University of Surrey led by Professor Watts has many years of experience in the study of adhesion and failure of coatings, adhesives and sealants by surface analysis methods such as XPS and ToF-SIMS. In a nutshell the philosophy is always to understand the nature of adhesion, use this to develop an informed view of failure in either accelerated or field tests, and then by understanding failure at the molecular level influence the reformulation of the system in a more purposeful way. The two references below review this area in an introductory manner. The project is an EPSRC Industrial CASE Award with BAE Systems (Sowerby Research Centre, Bristol) and concerns the performance of organic coatings used for aerospace applications and their behaviour in extremes of temperature and humidity. This will involve working closely with BAE Systems staff and a third party supplier of high performance coatings. Work will be predominantly undertaken in University laboratories (analysis will be carried out in The Surface Analysis Laboratory which is equipped with a superb array of instrumentation for surface chemical analysis – XPS, ToF-SIMS, AFM and AES/SAM, specialised testing for coatings will be carried out with the sponsor and/or coatings manufacturer. The eventual aim of the project is the development of coatings that fulfil the challenging requirements of the aerospace industry in keeping with the current legislative requirements relating to the chemical industry.

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The successful candidate will join a vibrant and successful research group and working on a variety of topics in materials science but all focussed on the innovative use of our chosen methods of surface chemical analysis. Members of the group travel widely to attend scientific conferences and collaborate with others and the successful candidate will take part in these activities.

Contact: Professor John F Watts ( Tel: 01483 689617

Funding Notes 

This is an EPSRC Industrial CASE Award, open to UK students and EU students who fulfil the usual residency requirements.


1.  J F Watts, “Surface characterization and its role in adhesion science and technology” in L M  F da Silva, A Öchsner, R D Adams, “Handbook of Adhesion Technology: Volume 1 Springer Heidelberg, pp 179- 207, (2011).

2.  J F Watts, “Use of surface analysis methods to probe the interfacial chemistry of adhesion” in L M F da Silva, A Öchsner, R D Adams, “Handbook of Adhesion Technology: Volume 1” Springer Heidelberg, pp 209-235, (2011).

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