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School of Engineering and Materials Science Research Studentships

Developing crashworthy and thermally conductive graphene related composite materials for electrical car battery assembly

Supervisors: Wei TAN, James BUSFIELD and Nicola PUGNO

Application Deadline: 10-07-2020

Queen Mary University of London is launching a miniCDT in graphene materials with significant co-funding from the EU Graphene Core 3 Flagship programme. QMUL will establish this new activity with a cohort of five fully funded PhD studentships in the School of Engineering and Materials from September 2020.

Polymer composites are widely used for the manufacture of macroscale components with enhanced properties. For example, the combination of carbon fillers or nanofibers with polymeric materials is used extensively to create versatile, light-weight and high-strength materials, for applications in aerospace, automotive, renewable energy and sports equipment sectors. Two-dimensional nanomaterials such as graphene offer significant potential when incorporated into novel polymer nanocomposites due to their exceptional intrinsic mechanical, thermal, electrical and barrier properties.

The range of projects will suit graduates from a wide range of chemistry, physics, chemical engineering, engineering or materials science backgrounds. In particular applicants with an interest in nanocomposites, graphene materials, polymers and materials engineering are encouraged to apply. The projects will be based at the London campus of QMUL. A supervisory group of 9 academics has been established under the leadership of Prof James Busfield and Prof Nicola Pugno.

Project 3 Details: Developing crashworthy and thermally conductive graphene related composite materials for electrical car battery assembly (Dr Wei Tan, Prof James Busfield & Prof Nicola Pugno)

Car batteries can easily catch fire during crash events and are often over-heat during charge-discharge cycles. In the winter, the batteries also need to be heated to reach their optimal operational conditions. QMUL research will design new graphene related materials to manufacture battery protection structures for both energy-absorption and thermal management. The concept being similar to the design of cardboard box to protect eggs and maintain them at an ideal temperature. Architected structures such as lattices and cellular materials offer a vast design space to tune and optimise the energy absorption capacity and thermal management. These structures will be optimised using finite element models that can provide guidance for optimal levels of graphene incorporation and surface deposition texturing. This can predict the fracture and crushing mechanical behaviour coupled with the thermal behaviour when subjected to extreme thermal-mechanical loadings. The models will be validated using experiments on prototype systems.

QMUL Research Studentship Details

  • Available to Home/EU Applicants only.
  • Full Time programme only
  • Applicant required to start in September 2020
  • The studentship arrangement will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend for up to three years (Currently set as £17,285 in 2020/21).
  • The minimum requirement for these studentship opportunities is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) or MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline.
  • If English is not your first language you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score of 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking).
  • Please note that this studentship is only available to Home/EU Applicants. (See: for details)

Supervisor Contact Details:

For informal enquiries about these positions, please contact Dr Wei Tan via E-mail:

Application Method:

To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the Materials Science programme (Full Time) please follow the instructions detailed on the following webpage:

Research degrees in Materials:

Further Guidance:

Applicants should identify the projects from the ones listed above that appeal most and as part of a personal statement explain why they are suited for this role, and how will this PhD help your future career. Please be sure to include a reference to ‘2020 SEMS Graphene CDT 3 ’ to associate your application with these studentship opportunities.