PhD Studentship Manufacture of Structured and Graded Polymer Nanocomposites for Electromagnetic Applications (PhD)

Supervisor: Dr Claire Dancer

Project Overview:

Electromagnetic materials and metamaterials have been widely studied in recent years for use in functional devices such as invisibility cloaks, lenses, and waveguides. However, the ability to produce these devices by industrially-relevant methods is currently limited by the range of materials and processes accessible to those working in the field. Polymer nanocomposites consisting of thermoplastic polymers loaded with dielectric or ferritic particles could be a flexible platform for constructing electromagnetic devices as the diversity of nanomaterials available lead to a wide range of electromagnetic behaviours. Nanocomposite materials would be very well-suited for use in radio and microwave devices for communications due to their microstructural feature sizes. However, for such materials to be exploited in devices it is necessary to demonstrate how a suitable electromagnetic property range can be achieved, and how the electromagnetic properties can be varied spatially within the material in a controllable way. In lab-scale demonstrator devices this is generally achieved by hand-assembling blocks of materials of different compositions; however air gaps and other discontinuities in the structure occur which limit the effectiveness of the device. The aim of this PhD project is to develop flexible polymer-based processing routes which allow the direct production of spatially varied compositions using either systematically varying compositions of nanocomposite materials or structured elements.

This project will involve the preparation of polymer-based nanocomposite materials by twin screw extrusion and other compounding methods, and subsequent processing into graded and other structures using techniques such as 3D printing and hot pressing. The student will gain hands-on experience in a range of characterisation techniques to measure the microstructural, mechanical and electromagnetic properties of the materials. These will include microscopy, thermal analysis techniques such as TG-DTA, dynamic mechanical analysis, and X-ray diffraction, using characterisation facilities based in WMG and other departments at the University of Warwick. Interaction with collaborating academic groups and industrial partners working in this area can be expected, as well as attendance at international conferences.

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This PhD project would suit students with a good undergraduate degree in materials science, chemistry or engineering and an interest in carrying out hands-on experimental research. Prior experience of materials processing and/or characterisation would be an advantage.

Awards available: 1 award available.

Funding Details: Fees and maintenance at RCUK Level

Length of Award: 3.5 years (PhD)

Eligibility: Funding is available for well-qualified UK or EU students. Other motivated students are encouraged to apply but will need to secure their own funding.

Application Details:

This project is available to start on 1st October 2013 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Please contact Dr Claire Dancer by email ( with informal enquires about this project.

Please apply directly via PG Admissions and note the reference number. Click here for the application form: 

Deadline: 30 November 2013

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