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This funding opportunity has expired.

Key facts

Application deadline 11 August 2019
Start date 1 October 2019
Duration 3 years
Level of study Postgraduate research
Award type PhD studentship

Cardiff Diamond Foundry, a research group within the University, is looking for a highly motivated PhD student to work on the growth of materials for operation in extreme environments.


These materials are critical for space /satellite applications, areas of high temperatures (>1000K) and in hostile mediums such as under intense radiation, strongly acidic/basic solutions etc.

Diamond can withstand many harsh environments such as high radiation flux and strong acid/bases, but graphitises above 1700K and burns in air above 1000K.

Glassy carbon is a non – graphitising carbon, capable of operating in vacuum until nearly 3000K, so is an option for satellite and space applications. Few materials are capable of withstanding high temperatures in air or oxygen containing environments due to oxidation driven etching. One group of materials that can are the ultra-high-temperature ceramics (UHTCs), one of which being hafnium carbide, exhibiting the highest melting point of all materials (almost 4000K).

Project aims and methods

In this project, we will grow diamond, hafnium/tantalum carbide and glassy carbon. We will use our extensive in-house metrology facilities to characterise them and then fabricate micron and nanoscale devices. We will assess the performance of these devise under extreme conditions such as temperatures above 2000K.

Cardiff Diamond Foundry operates four state of the art diamond growth systems with comprehensive in-situ monitoring and ex-situ metrology. We have recently installed two new chemical vapour deposition furnaces for the growth of ultra-high temperature ceramics such as hafnium carbide and tantalum carbide, as well as a third for the pyrolysis of polymers into glassy carbon. We also have access to comprehensive materials characterisation facilities such as Raman and X-Ray Diffraction.


Informal enquiries should be directed to Professor O A Williams.

Funding details

Tuition fee support Full UK/EU tuition fees
Maintenance stipend Doctoral stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum

Eligibility criteria

Residency UK Research Council eligibility conditions apply
Academic criteria

You should have obtained, or be about to obtain, a first or upper second class UK Honours degree in physics, or a related subject.

Alternatively, applicants with equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK will also be considered. Applicants with a lower second class degree will be considered if they also have a master’s degree.

Due to the nature and restrictions of the funding, we are only able to offer funded places to UK and EU residents.

Consideration is automatic upon application for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy in Physics and Astronomy with an October 2019 start date.

In the 'Research proposal and Funding' section of your online application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided.

Please select 'No, I am not self-funding my research' when asked whether you are self-funding your research.

Please add 'PhD in Physics and Astronomy: Materials and devices for extreme environments’ when asked 'Please provide the name of the funding you are applying for'.

We reserve the right to close applications early should sufficient applications be received.

See the range of PhD studentships and projects currently available.

Eligible research programmes