Skip to main content

Research Studentship in ‘Damage tolerance of Ni-based alloys at cryogenic temperatures’

Research Studentship in ‘Damage tolerance of Ni-based alloys at cryogenic temperatures’

3.5-year D.Phil. studentship

Supervisor: Prof Dong (Lilly) Liu and Prof Felix Hofmann

As part of the drive for Net Zero emissions by 2050 aerospace OEMs are in the early stages of development of hydrogen fuelled gas turbine engines. Rolls-Royce has launched a programme to run a full-scale liquid hydrogen fuelled engine ground test. When using liquid hydrogen as a fuel, much of the fuel system will be operating at cryogenic temperature. Hence a good understanding of how aerospace alloys will behave at cryogenic temperatures is essential to inform component integrity assessment. A key input into this is understanding of damage tolerance/fracture toughness at cryogenic temperatures. This sets the horizon of this DPhil project.

Specifically, in this project, you will be using a range of advanced experimental techniques to characterize the deformation and fracture of Ni-based alloys over a range of cryogenic temperatures down to 20K.  There will also be the opportunity to study other materials of interest during the project. In situ experiments with neutron/X-ray diffraction/imaging will be carried out at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and lab-based analysis using Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD), focused ion beam milling and micro-mechanical testing will be carried out to further understand the mechanisms controlling the deformation and fracture behaviour of these materials.

In the later years of the project, there will be the opportunity to collaborate with Profs. Hofmann and Tarleton’s groups to investigate the process of embrittlement in these materials from hydrogen. During the project, the student is expected to attend regular progress meetings with the industrial supervision team (Louise Gale and Neil Glover, Rolls Royce plc). In summary, this jointed DPhil project between Oxford and Rolls Royce is considered a very important effort to further establish UK cryogenic testing capability and to foster next generation young researchers in this field.


This studentship is open to Home students (full award – home fees plus stipend).

There is very limited flexibility to support international students. If you are an international student and want to apply for this studentship, please contact the supervisors to see whether the flexibility might be available for you.

Award Value

University course fees are covered at the home student rate. The stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) will be c. £18,622 for the first year, and at least this amount for a further two and 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 Engineering, Materials Science or Physics
  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills in English
  • Strong mathematical and analytical skills
  • Willingness to travelling to international collaborators and science facilities for experimental work (expenses will be covered).

The following skills are also highly desirable:

  • Strong laboratory-based skills
  • Programming skills (Matlab, Python, or similar)

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.

Application Procedure

Informal enquiries are encouraged and should be addressed to and

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.

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

Application deadline: 12:00 midday 1 Dec 2023

  Start date: October 2024