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Thom Building, Department of Engineering Science


Xun Zhang DPhil

Postdoctoral Research Assistant


Dr Xun Zhang is a Postdoctoral Research Assistant working with Professor Alan Cocks on modelling the sintering of TBCs manufactured by air-plasma spray (APS). This is a project sponsored by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.

Xun joined Oxford in January 2019. He got his PhD in materials science in 2016 from the University of Manchester, focusing on characterisation of porous ceramic materials e.g. thermal barrier coatings (TBCs) for turbine engines using 3D X-ray micro-tomography. From 2016-2018, he worked in the Henry Moseley X-ray Imaging Facility (now part of the Royce Institute) in the University of Manchester as a Postdoctoral Research Associate.


Research Interests

  • Materials characterisation especially 3D characterisation using X-ray computed tomography
  • Porous (ceramic) materials with a focus on the structure (porosity) property relationship
  • Micro-mechanical modelling
  • In-situ experiments

Current Projects

Modelling the sintering of air-plasma sprayed (APS) thermal barreir coatings (TBCs)

This projet aims at developing a micro-mechanical model to predict the sintering response of a porous ceramic (ytrria stabilised zirconia) coating used in gas turbines.

Related Academics


  • Xun Zhang, Xiao Shan, Philip J. Withers, Xiaofeng Zhao, Ping Xiao: Tracking the calcium-magnesium-alumino-silicate (CMAS) infiltration into an air-plasma spray thermal barrier coating using X-ray imaging. Scripta Materialia 02/2020; 176:94-98., DOI:10.1016/j.scriptamat.2019.09.016
  • W. Zhang, C.A. Simpson, T. Leitner, X. Zhang, R. Pippan, P.J. Withers: The effect of anisotropic microstructure on the crack growth and fatigue overload behaviour of ultrafine-grained nickel. Acta Materialia 11/2019;, DOI:10.1016/j.actamat.2019.11.024
  • Xun Zhang, Chun Li, Philip J. Withers, Nicolaie Markocsan, Ping Xiao: Determination of local residual stress in an air plasma spray thermal barrier coating (APS-TBC) by microscale ring coring using a picosecond laser. Scripta Materialia 07/2019; 167:126-130., DOI:10.1016/j.scriptamat.2019.03.036
  • Ying Chen, Xun Zhang, Xiaofeng Zhao, Nicolaie Markocsan, Ping Xiao: Measurements of Elastic Modulus and Fracture Toughness of an Air Plasma Sprayed Thermal Barrier Coating Using Micro-Cantilever Bending. Surface and Coatings Technology 05/2019;, DOI:10.1016/j.surfcoat.2019.05.031
  • Ying Chen, Xun Zhang, Sybrand van der Zwaag, Willem G. Sloof, Ping Xiao: Damage evolution in a self-healing air plasma sprayed thermal barrier coating containing self-shielding MoSi 2 particles. Journal of the American Ceramic Society 01/2019;, DOI:10.1111/jace.16313
  • Xun Zhang, Yang Zhao, Philip J. Withers, Ping Xiao: Microstructural degradation of Electron Beam-Physical Vapour Deposition Thermal Barrier Coating during thermal cycling tracked by X-ray micro-computed tomography. Scripta Materialia 07/2018; 152:79-83., DOI:10.1016/j.scriptamat.2018.04.010
  • Xun Zhang, Justyna Kulczyk-Malecka, James Carr, Ping Xiao, Philip J. Withers: 3D characterisation of porosity in an air plasma-sprayed thermal barrier coating and its effect on thermal conductivity. Journal of the American Ceramic Society 12/2017; 101(6)., DOI:10.1111/jace.15409
  • Yi Zeng, Dini Wang, Xiang Xiong, Xun Zhang, Philip J. Withers, Wei Sun, Matthew Smith, Mingwen Bai, Ping Xiao: Ablation-resistant carbide Zr0.8Ti0.2C0.74B0.26 for oxidizing environments up to 3,000 °C. Nature Communications 06/2017; 8:15836., DOI:10.1038/ncomms15836
  • Chun Li, Xun Zhang, Ying Chen, James Carr, Simon Jacques, Julia Behnsen, Marco di Michiel, Ping Xiao, Robert Cernik: Understanding the Residual Stress Distribution through the Thickness of Atmosphere Plasma Sprayed (APS) Thermal Barrier Coatings (TBCs) by high energy Synchrotron XRD; Digital Image Correlation (DIC) and Image Based Modelling. Acta Materialia 03/2017; 132., DOI:10.1016/j.actamat.2017.03.044
  • Xun Zhang, Sepideh Aliasghari, Aneta Němcová, Timothy Burnett, Ivo Kuběna, Miroslav Šmíd, George Thompson, Peter Skeldon, Philip Withers: X-ray Computed Tomographic Investigation of the Porosity and Morphology of Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation Coatings. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 03/2016; 8(13)., DOI:10.1021/acsami.6b00274