The Experimental Characterisation and Numerical Modelling of Mussel Plaque-Substratum Interactions

Project Description

The aims of the PhD project are to (1) investigate the mechanics of the adhesive structures of marine mussel plaques attached to various wet surfaces; (2) develop mussel plaque inspired engineering solutions that exhibit extreme mechanical behaviours.

Marine mussels can attach various wet surfaces via a unique adhesive structure, the plaques. Mussel plaques can maintain high performance, long–lasting anchorages that allow mussels to survive the significant dynamic forces exerted by the turbulent tidal currents as well as by the attack from predators. Understanding of the mechanics and mechanisms of how marine mussel plaques interact with wet surfaces can contribute toward developing bioinspired engineering solutions such as high performance adhesive materials, novel approaches for joining dissimilar materials as well as high performance lightweight structures.

The PhD projects will focus on experimental characterisation and numerical modelling of mussel plaque-substratum interactions. The PhD candidate willbuild a customised test rig to measure the mechanical response of mussel plaque attaching on various wet surfaces.

  • experimentally characterise the adhesive structure of a mussel plaque using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Nanofocus Computed Tomography (Nano CT) and 3D OrbiSIMS instrument.
  • develop finite element modelling to simulate the mechanical response of mussel plaque
  • develop the design principle for plaque core inspired cellular materials of high performance

Funding Information

Full university fees are covered at the level set for UK/EU students (£4,407 p.a.). The stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) is £15,285 p.a. for the first year, and at least this amount for a further two.

The studentship is funded by Leverhulme Trust and is open to UK/EU students (full award – fees plus stipend). A limited amount of partial funding is available for exceptional international applicants who are highly qualified and motivated.

Eligibility Requirements

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

  • A 2.1 class or above honours degree in Applied Maths, Engineering, Physics or Materials Science
  • Good written English and spoken communication skills

The following skills are desirable but not essential:

  • Ability to program in Matlab
  • Familiarity with FEM and Abaqus
  • Experimental testing on materials and structures

Application Process

Please direct any enquiries to Dr. Tao Liu, [email protected]

Please apply online directly here.

When applying for this studentship, please include the reference number (ENG1401 and supervisors name, Dr Tao Liu) within the personal statement section of the application. This will help in ensuring your application is sent directly to the academic advertising the studentship.

To apply for this PhD, please use the following application link: