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Novel Routes to Hierarchical Nanocomposite Fabrication using Magnetic Fields

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

We have recently developed a process to magnetise graphene materials and have demonstrated that magnetic fields can control their alignment and position in polymers. This has exciting implications for enhancing and tuning the physical properties of nanocomposites.

This project will seek to develop nanocomposites with varying internal microstructures and to establish the relationship with final composite properties.

This is an excellent opportunity to work on a multi-disciplinary project within an internationally renowned Engineering School (ranked first for research impact in the most recent UK research assessment (REF 2014)).

You will work across the Structural Performance and Magnetics and Materials groups with access to leading expertise and expanding facilities for the design, manufacture and analysis of nanocomposite materials and magnetic devices. You will benefit from interactions and access to equipment through existing collaborations with the Schools of Chemistry and Physics as well as existing industrial collaborators.

Project aims and methods

Year one

  • Establish the effect of size, polymer viscosity and field strength on particle alignment and motion (using existing microscope system with integrated electromagnet).
  • Develop finite element tools for predicting magnetic field distribution within multi-coil electromagnetic devices (COMSOL software and existing group knowledge).
  • Outputs: Preliminary device design for multi-coil system, conference paper reporting initial findings.

Year two

  • Development of multi-coil system for generation of desired nanocomposite microstructures (existing lab facilities and group knowledge).
  • Manufacture nanocomposites with magnetically controlled microstructures (using developed device and established composite manufacturing facilities).
  • Preliminary analysis of microstructures (existing facilities for Microscopy, SEM/TEM, SAX, MicroCT).
  • Outputs: Journal publication detailing development of new materials.

Year three

  • Continued development and analysis of nanocomposite microstructure.
  • Characterisation of physical properties (existing facilities to measure modulus, strength, fracture, viscoelasticity, electrical and thermal conductivities).
  • Outputs: Journal and conference publication detailing relationship between microstructure and properties.

The research will benefit from working across disciplines. You will work with Electrical Engineers from the Magnetics and Materials Group to develop skills in the simulation and design of magnetic devices for the generation of complex magnetic fields. This represents a novel approach to the manufacture of nanocomposites where nano-particles can be selectively placed by generation of an appropriate magnetic field.

During the project you will work with Mechanical Engineers from the structural performance research group for the formulation of nanofilled resins and the characterisation of manufactured hierarchical nanocomposites. You will have access to composite manufacturing laboratories with industry leading mixing equipment, mechanical testing facilities and materials characterisation facilities including thermal analysis laboratory and microscopy facilities.

This will lead to the development of new materials with enhanced and controllable properties. Importantly the project will develop the understanding that links material microstructure to bulk properties, which can inform the design of future materials where specific properties are required.

You will benefit from opportunities to collaborate more widely across the School of Engineering through the Future Materials Cross Cutting Theme led by the main supervisor and through established industrial links, such as Haydale Ltd. (a leading nanomaterials supplier and composite solutions provider).


Mark Eaton

Dr Mark Eaton

Lecturer - Teaching and Research

+44 (0)29 2087 5793
Jeremy Hall

Dr Jeremy Hall

Lecturer - Teaching and Research

+44 (0)29 2087 5933

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