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Research Studentship in Shock-induced Phase Transitions

Research Studentship in Shock-induced Phase Transitions

Project: Towards Improved Modelling of Shock-Induced Phase Transitions

4-year DPhil studentship 

Supervisors: Prof Daniel Eakins

Materials in extreme engineering environments must often contend with applied forces that dramatically overwhelm their strength. In such materials, high-pressure effects can have a profound effect on bulk behaviour, and become an important consideration in the design, architecture and selection of materials resilient to these harsh conditions.

The aim of this project is to improve our capabilities for modelling shock-induced phase transitions through study of single crystal tin, a material which exhibits a rich phase diagram and potential for structural phase transitions under loading. For example, when subjected to shock-loading at modest pressures (< 10 GPa or 100,000 atmospheres), tin undergoes a transition between two low symmetry crystalline phases, resulting in ~10% volume contraction as well as significant microstructural changes. In the context of hydrodynamic simulations, phase transitions will lead to complex wave dynamics and can have a significant effect on computational predictions. 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 dovetail alongside another DPhil dedicated to shock experimentation of single-crystal tin; there will be ample opportunity to design and participate in a combination of in-house and national facility experiments to generate novel data (sensitivity to crystal orientation, loading conditions, for example) for validation of models which capture the hydrodynamic behaviour of solids undergoing phase transitions. 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 both experimental and computational physics.


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

Award Value

Course fees are covered at the level set for UK students (c. £8621 p.a.). The stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) is c. £18,927 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 Prof 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 23ENGMM_DE in all correspondence and in your graduate application.

Application deadline: 9 December 2022

Start date: October 2023