Novel, rate-sensitive material to reduce head injuries
This research project is in competition for funding with one or more projects available across the EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). Usually the projects which receive the best applicants will be awarded the funding. Find out more information about the DTP and how to apply.
Start date: 1 October 2019
This PhD focusses on developing a new material that will enable helmets to perform effectively across a range of testing conditions that better represent common impact scenarios.
Our approach to designing new head protection solutions focusses on exploiting out 20-year experience in polymer-based additive manufacturing (AM). AM provides opportunity to fabricate complex structures that were impossible to manufacture using traditional techniques. Our approach enables us to design new geometries that achieve improved performance. We have already filed two patents seeking protection for our novel approach.
Dr Theobald leads a team focussing on understand and developing new solutions that better protect the head/brain. This is highly topical given the risks of head injury (e.g. concussions) that currently surround sports including rugby and soccer. Their work is internationally respected and they are the only non-US group to attract funding from the prestigious Head Health Tech programme, which aims to reduce head injury prevalence in American football.
Project aims and methods
This PhD aims to utilise our expertise to establish a new material-structure combination, achieving a helmet inner that is more effective at energy absorption over a wide range of impact scenarios. Expertise will be developed in computer aided design software, before using finite element analysis to iteratively assess new design concepts.
Our advanced materials characterisation suite will enable development of a comprehensive material model, which can then be realised using our range of high-specification AM machines. Final designs will then be tested in the extensive facilities at Charles Owen (our industrial partner).
PhDs within our research group traditionally follow a timeline such that, when applied to this project:
- After month 9, you will have prepared a comprehensive literature review, establishing a clear understanding of the critical subject matter.
- After month 18, you will have successfully identified a suitable material that exhibits the requisite viscoelasticity. This work will be prepared for a publication in an international journal.
- After month 24, preliminary data will have been produced that demonstrates favourable performance when combining the selected material, with a geometrical design.
- After month 30, an optimal combination of geometry and material will have been established via finite element analysis.
- After month 36, the optimised combination of material and geometry will have been experimentally validated and all investigative stages of the PhD will be completed. This will produce the second manuscript to be submitted for publication.
- After month 42, your thesis will have been submitted and defended.