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Postgraduate research project

X-ray imaging and property characterisation of porous materials

Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree
(View full entry requirements)
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Closing date

About the project

Porous materials perform a range of functions including lightweight load bearing, impact protection, energy absorption and thermal or acoustic insulation. They have a range of applications such as aerospace and transport structures, protective panelling, cargo packaging, and insulation.

The properties of porous materials are dependent on their composition and the detailed geometry of the porous architecture.

Foams with random architectures can be produced by chemical or physical blowing, or by incorporating hollow fillers to produce syntactic foams. More controlled and ordered architectures can be produced using additive manufacturing (AM) techniques to control the locations where material is deposited. The complexity of these porous architectures makes identification and prediction of properties difficult. Despite the improvement in AM architectures, foams are still prone to defects due to their random architecture.

X-ray computed tomography (XCT) is a powerful tool that enables volumetric imaging and can identify porous materials' architecture. When used in conjunction with modelling, volumetric imaging from XCT enables predictions of functionally relevant material properties. High resolution XCT imaging produces digital models of porous geometries that can be analysed through finite element analysis to predict properties and behaviour. However, these high fidelity images and predictions are time consuming, expensive, and not always possible for high-density materials and large parts, both of which can lead to high X-ray attenuation and poor contrast.

This project aims to:

  • utilise XCT imaging for characterisation of porous architectures
  • develop analysis methods that predict material properties and behaviour such as mechanical, thermal, and acoustic
  • validate these methods experimentally

The goal will be to enable these predictions using low resolution XCT images that can be obtained rapidly for larger parts or denser materials. You will make use of facilities and expertise in additive manufacturing (AM), mechanical testing, characterisation and the µ-VIS X-ray Imaging Centre at the University of Southampton.

You'll work in collaboration with a UK government defence organisation as a partner and sponsor of the project. You will have the opportunity to support and assess materials that are being developed for use in state-of-the-art defence systems where a broad range of environments will be encountered. There will be opportunities for placement within the sponsor organisation and potential for future employment.

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