PhD Studentship: Integrated experimental and computational characterisation of advanced composite m

United Kingdom
Dec 18, 2015
Dec 19, 2016
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time

PhD Studentship: Integrated experimental and computational characterisation of advanced composite materials subjected to multiaxial loading

Engineering Sciences Unit (ESU)

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:   Monday 19 December 2016
Reference:  666915BX

Project Reference: EngSci-USMC-102

Project Theme:  Materials and Surface Engineering

Fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) composite materials are widely used for aero, marine, transportation and energy structure applications. The reason for this is that they exhibit high stiffness and strength relative to their weight, and excellent performance when subjected to fatigue loads.  A significant effort has been invested internationally to assess the capabilities and accuracy of composite failure theories and indirectly the testing methods through the World Wide Failure Exercises (WWFEs). The results show that current theories have significant deficiencies in their ability to predict failure under complex multi-axial loading states. Moreover, the current test methods are inadequate.

The PhD aims to define a new methodology for obtaining properties of FRP and defining the failure envelope for such materials. A novel approach is proposed which allows any combination of tensile/compression and shear loading to be achieved using a single test rig (the modified Arcan fixture) to study complex loading states and failure modes. Acquisition of reliable test data will allow full development of failure envelopes at both lamina and laminate levels not possible with the current testing methods. To accommodate for nonlinear material behaviour the test results are integrated with iterative finite element (FE) models.

The project addresses important and complex problems of both high scientific and industrial importance. The proposed testing methodology has the potential for changing current testing procedures and standards.

The research focuses on defining a fully validated approach, and encompasses the following tasks: 

•  Further development/redesign of the fixture so that it can accommodate for fibre dominated laminate configurations.

•  Development and implementation of iterative FEA methodology to enable accurate prediction of material properties by accounting for the resin nonlinear response.

•  Integrating modelling with the experimental procedures to enable high fidelity predictions/measurements.

•  Commissioning of the rig for a range of composite laminates.

•  Defining an approach to obtain through-thickness properties.

The successful candidate will be based at the University of Southampton with secondments to University of Southampton, Malaysia Campus (USMC), which is the base of the primary supervisor. The candidate will have co-supervisors from UoS, UK campus. The candidate will spend 2 years in Southampton, where the focus will be on experimental and characterisation work, and 1 year at USMC where the focus will be on computational modelling. The project offers a full stipend and covers travelling expenses to Malaysia.

The successful candidate will have a good background in, solid mechanics, mechanics of composite materials and experience of FE modelling.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr. Khong Wui Gan USMC research group, Email:

Or Prof. Janice Barton ( or Prof. Ole Thybo Thomsen ( at University of Southampton.

To apply please use the following link and select Faculty of Engineering and the Environment.