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Information about a Research Studentship in Accelerating High Temperature Qualification of Fusion Materials at the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford

Research Studentship in Accelerating High Temperature Qualification of Fusion Materials

Project: Materials Testing 2.0 for Accelerating High Temperature Qualification of Fusion Materials

3.5-year DPhil studentship 

Supervisors: Prof Clive Siviour (University of Oxford), Dr Rory Spencer (UKAEA), Professor Fabrice Pierron (MatchID)Prof 

A key challenge in materials qualification for fusion is the requirement to test materials across a range of temperatures. For in-vessel components such as breeder blankets and divertors that operate at high temperatures a primary failure mode is creep. Current design codes require materials to be tested from room temperature to the maximum operating temperature in steps of 50 °C at a range of stress levels, leading to large test programmes, which will also have to cover a range of neutron irradiation damage levels. This is further compounded by the limited availability, small volume and expense of testing irradiated material. Therefore, it is highly desirable to develop new material testing methods that can provide significantly more material data across the fusion operational range with limited amounts of material.

The emergence of full-field camera-based methods for measuring deformation coupled with inverse identification has enabled a new materials testing paradigm called ‘Materials Testing 2.0’ (MT2.0) [1,2]. The use of heterogenous stress and temperature states with MT2.0 means that data from a large range of the fusion operational envelope can be obtained from a single test sample. However, new methods must be developed that can be used to design optimal test configurations for fusion design rules.

This project will develop new methods for high temperature qualification of fusion materials with a focus on creep. The first objective will be to develop topology optimization procedures for optimizing MT2.0 test configurations. The second objective, to perform uncertainty quantification of the resulting material data with a focus on the stability of the camera-based deformation measurements at high temperatures for long period of time. The main outcome of this work will be a framework for designing targeted MT2.0 tests for fusion design rules that focus on the fusion operational envelope.

[1] F. Pierron, M. Grédiac, Towards Material Testing 2.0. A review of test design for identification of constitutive parameters from full-field measurements, Strain. 57 (2021) e12370.

[2] F. Pierron, Material Testing 2.0: A brief review, Strain. (2023) e12434.


This studentship is fully funded at the Home level (fees plus stipend) by UKAEA and Pembroke College, Oxford.

Award Value

Course fees are covered at the level set for UK students (c. £9,500 p.a.). The stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) is c. £20,000 p.a. for the first year, and at least this amount for a further two and a half years.

Candidate Requirements

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:
  • A first-class* honours degree (or equivalent) in Physics, Engineering, or Materials Science
  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills in English

*Applicants with a good 2.1 degree are also encouraged to apply if they can demonstrate excellent laboratory skills through previous research or an undergraduate project.

The following skills are also highly desirable:

  • Ability to program in Matlab, Python, or similar
  • Experience of Finite Element modelling
  • Excellent understanding of Solid Mechanics and Materials Engineering
  • Strong laboratory-based skills

Application Procedure

Candidates must submit a graduate application form and are expected to meet the graduate admissions criteria. Details are available on the course page of the University website. Before going through this process, applicants are strongly encouraged to make informal enquiries, which should be addressed to Prof Clive Siviour (

Please quote 24ENGMM_CS3 in all correspondence and in your graduate application.

Application deadline: 19 April 2024

Start date: October 2024