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Research Studentship in: Solid Mechanics and Materials Engineering

Project: Rapid characterisation of irradiation-induced dimensional change

3.5-year D.Phil. studentship, fully funded

Supervisors: Prof. Felix Hofmann & Dr. Andrew London

We are seeking a DPhil student to work on the development of rapid approaches for characterising irradiation-induced dimensional change. This exciting project will be jointly supervised by Prof. Hofmann at the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, and Dr. Andrew London at the Culham Centre for Fusion energy. Full funding for stipend and fees is available for UK and EU applicants.

Nuclear fission and fusion power are attractive long-term energy sources with little carbon footprint. Structural materials in future reactors will be exposed to intense irradiation environments and extreme temperatures. These conditions can bring about dramatic changes in the mechanical and physical properties of the materials used. Formation of irradiation-induced defects causes dimensional change, i.e. a swelling or contraction of the material. This is very important as it may lead to large stresses that in turn can reduce the fatigue life of critical components.

The goal of this project is to develop new techniques to rapidly assess the evolution of irradiation-induced dimensional change as a function of irradiation temperature and dose. This is very important for the rapid testing of new candidate alloy systems proposed for structural reactor components. These new tools will be combined with electron and X-ray microscopy to shed light on the link between macroscopic dimensional change and the underlying irradiation-induced defects.

The DPhil student will spend time working at the Oxford Engineering Department, as well as at the Material Research Facility (MRF) at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy. They will be part of a vibrant research environment interacting with colleagues in both Solid Mechanics and Nuclear Materials research communities. Further information about Prof. Hofmann’s research can be found at and additional details about the Solid Mechanics Group in the Department of Engineering Science are available at Further details about the MRF and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy can be found at:


This studentship is funded in part by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) through CCFE, and in part by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Doctoral Training Partnership. It is open to UK and EU applicants.

Award Value

Course fees are covered at the level set for UK/EU students (c. £8,290 p.a.). The stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) is c. £15,285 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 in Engineering, Physics, Materials Science, or another relevant discipline.
  • Excellent written and spoken English communication skills
  • 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 desirable:

  • Ability to program (e.g. in Matlab, Fortran or Python)
  • Enthusiasm for experimental work

Application Procedure

Informal enquiries are strongly encouraged and should be addressed to Prof Felix Hofmann ( or Dr. Andrew London (

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 21ENGCCFE_FHAL in all correspondence and in your graduate application.

Application deadline: noon on 22 January 2021 (In line with the January admissions deadline, set by the University)

Start date: October 2021