Research Studentship in Impact Engineering

Project: On the shock compression response of single crystal tin

4-year DPhil studentship
Supervisor: Professor Daniel Eakins

Tin is a material of considerable interest to the high-pressure and shock communities, owing to its rich sequence of structural phase transitions upon compression. For example, when subjected to shock-loading at modest pressures (< 10 GPa), tin undergoes a transition between two low symmetry BCT phases, resulting in ~10% volume contraction as well as significant microstructural changes. Understanding the effect of these physical changes on subsequent mechanical behaviour is therefore key to the development of predictive models for materials under complex loading.

This project will investigate the response of single crystals of tin to dynamic loading, with particular attention to the link between crystal orientation, transition threshold, and behaviour under reloading/release. The project will involve compression tests from quasi-static to shock strain-rates, employing state-of-the-art techniques (e.g. high-speed imaging/image correlation, laser interferometry) to reveal details of constitutive behavior. These in-house experiments will also be complemented by experiments at 3rd/4th generation synchrotron facilities (e.g. APS, ESRF), for example using the new impact/multi-MHz imaging systems developed by the Oxford team to directly monitor structural changes in real-time. The outputs of this research would be of considerable benefit to the understanding of shock-induced phase changes, both in terms of tin and more generally where materials undergo similar response.

This project offers the opportunity to undertake ground-breaking research in the field of shock-physics, involving elements of materials science, mechanics, and ultrafast diagnostics.


This studentship is fully funded by AWE, and is open to UK and EU students (full award – fees plus stipend).

Award Value

Course fees are covered at the level set for UK/EU students (c. £7970 p.a.). The stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) is c. £18,309 p.a. for the first year, and at least this amount for a further three years.

Candidate Requirements

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

  • A first class honours degree in Engineering, Physics or Materials Science
  • Excellent English written and spoken communication skills

The following skills are also highly desirable:

  • Ability to program in Matlab or similar
  • Strong laboratory-based skills

Application Procedure

Informal enquiries are encouraged and should be addressed to Professor Daniel Eakins.

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 20ENGMM_DE(tin) in all correspondence and in your graduate application.

Application Deadline

Applications will be considered as and when they are received and this position will be filled as soon as possible. The studentship will close on a Friday at a week’s notice. Please check the Courses open for studentships page for up-to-date information on the closing date.

Start Date

October 2020