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Research Studentship in Solid Mechanics

Research Studentship in Solid Mechanics

Project: Computational modelling of bulk and surface erosion in biodegradable polymers

3.5-year DPhil 3.5-year DPhil (PhD) studentship starting October 2023 

Supervisors: Professor Laurence Brassart, Professor Emilio Martinez Pañeda (Imperial College London)

Biodegradable polymers are materials designed to gradually break down after having fulfilled their structural function. They constitute a promising alternative to traditional inert plastics in a broad range of applications, including packaging, agriculture and other commodity plastics. Thanks to their biocompatibility, biodegradable polymers are also materials of choice for bioresorbable medical implants (e.g. stents, orthopaedic fixtures). Understanding the deformation and degradation response of biodegradable polymers is of primary importance for the successful implementation of these materials.

The aim of this project is to develop a novel computational approach to simulate gradual damage and mass loss (erosion) of polymers degrading by hydrolysis in water under mechanical loads. The computational model will describe the nonlinear mechanical response of the polymer, hydrolytic damage, and mass loss from the bulk and/or the surface. The model will build on recent progresses in the constitutive modelling of biodegradable polymers (Prof. Brassart) and chemo-mechanical phase-field methods (Prof. Martinez Pañeda). The project will generate new fundamental knowledge of the coupled chemo-mechanical effects that dictate the polymer performance and lifetime, along with a virtual testing capability and design principles for controlled degradation.

There will be opportunities to be involved in undergraduate teaching.


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

Award Value

Course fees will be covered at the level set for Home students (£8620 p.a. in 2022-23) and a stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) (at least £17,668 p.a.).

Candidate Requirements

Prospective candidates will be judged according to the following criteria:

  • A first class, or strong upper second class, honours degree in Engineering, Physics or Applied Mathematics
  • Interest in (and preferably some background in) mathematical modelling and numerical simulations in Mechanics of Materials
  • Strong background in Solid Mechanics
  • Demonstrated competence in programming (e.g. Matlab, Python, C/C++)
  • Basic knowledge of the Finite Element Method
  • Excellent English written and spoken communication skills

Application Procedure

Informal enquiries are encouraged and should be addressed to Professor Laurence Brassart(


Formal applications are to be made using the online Graduate Application Form that is accessible through the admissions page for the DPhil in Engineering Science ( - click the “Apply” button on the “How to Apply” tab).


When filling out the fields of the Graduate Application Form, please observe the following guidance.


On the “Course” tab:

Proposed field and title of research project: Computational modelling of bulk and surface erosion in biodegradable polymers


On the “Funding” tab:

Are you applying for an advertised studentship competition(s): Yes

Advertised reference code: 23ENGMM_LB


Application deadline: 9 December 2022

Start date: October 2023