DTA – Environmentally Assisted Cracking of High Strength Al Alloys

Project Description

Advanced high strength Al-Zn-Mg-Cu alloys are widely employed in the aerospace industry, owing to their high strength-to-density ratio. In modern aircraft design these materials are frequently deployed in large integral components manufactured from thick-gauge hot-rolled plates. However, it has been discovered that they can be susceptible to ‘Environmentally Assisted Cracking’ (EAC) in warm-humid air environments. This is a complex hybrid chemical-mechanical damage mechanism, whereby a combination of a high stress, water vapour, and chemical reaction, with active phases within the material, generates hydrogen which enters the material and causes grain boundary embrittlement.

The aim of this project is to exploit recent advances in 3D characterization techniques to improve our current poor understanding of how the local sub-surface microstructure and the environment within an embryo crack controls the transition from initiation to sustainable self-propagating cracks with different mechanistic regimes. This will include using in-situ and multi-scale 3D imaging techniques, by combing very high resolution tomography and destructive serial sectioning electron microscopy, to probe both the local environment formed within an embryonic crack and the interaction with the local microstructure and chemistry. In particular, by decoupling the effects of grain structure and precipitate type/chemistry, and the exposure conditions, the project will aim to determine why some cracks go on to become self-sustaining and others die, and why there are several regimes where different crack propagation mechanisms dominate.

Funding Information

This is a 3.5 year EPSRC DTA CASE studentship with Airbus. Funding will cover UK tuition fee and stipend only. The University of Manchester aims to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK. We are able to offer a limited number of scholarships that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.

Start date: September 2022

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants are expected to hold, or be about to obtain, a BSc, BEng, MSc, or MEng in Materials Engineering, Materials Science of Metallurgy.

At the University of Manchester, we pride ourselves on our commitment to fairness, inclusion and respect in everything we do. We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds and identities, and encourage you to bring your whole self to work and study. We will ensure that your application is given full consideration without regard to your race, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, age, marital or pregnancy status, or socioeconomic background. All PhD places will be awarded on the basis of merit.

Application Process

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact the PGR Admissions Team ([email protected]).

To apply for this PhD, please email pgr-materials@manchester.ac.uk.

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