PhD Studentship in Physics – DSTL / EPSRC iCASE

Department of Physics, West Cambridge

University of Cambridge, Trinity Ln, Cambridge, UK


  • Posted on: 01st Oct 2021
  • Funding amount: Funding Available
  • Funding for: EU Students, International Students, UK Students
  • REF: KA28368
  • Closes: 16th May 2022
  • Hours: Full Time

EPSRC iCASE Studentship – Implications of Resonant Acoustic Mixing for the vulnerability of energetic formulations subjected to mechanical insult

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 3.5 years in the first instance.

This studentship could begin on any one of the available 2022 start dates (Lent, Easter or Michaelmas). The award covers tuition fees (for UK students) and provides a tax-free stipend.

Applications are invited for a joint dstl / EPSRC iCASE funded PhD project in the area of understanding energetic materials vulnerability behaviour.

Resonant Acoustic Mixing (RAM) of ingredients, as a processing method for preparing energetic material formulations, is a new and disruptive technology that has many potential benefits; in terms of the degree of blend homogeneity, the ability to work with high solid loadings, and the ability to mix in situ. One observation, attributed to the greater intimacy that is achieved during mixing compared to conventional methods, is that the cure times for some chemical reactions, such as polymerization, are not the same. Consequently, it is highly likely that the thermal and the mechanical properties of the resulting RAM mixed materials are different from their conventionally mixed counterparts. And if so, what does this mean for the safe handling of such materials, and how might they respond in an accident scenario? The student will investigate these questions.

Key challenges the student will need to consider include: 1) Design of experiment. What are the correct characterisation experiments to perform to make fair comparisons between the RAM mixed and conventionally mixed materials?
2) Understanding the results. Placing the characterisation outcomes inside a framework of understanding; a strong candidate is so-called Group Interaction Modelling which is itself an active research area within the Research Group. Where differences arise, identifying what is the cause. Following the scientific method, design discriminatory experiments to inform the situation.

The student will be based in the Cavendish Laboratory, the Department of Physics, in a friendly 14 person Research Group. With access to state-of-the-art equipment, this research will build upon many years of prior art in this general area. The student will also interact heavily with researchers from dstl, benefitting from discussion, insights and feedback from practitioners at dstl, and more broadly through interaction with other partners in both academia and industry.

EPSRC iCASE studentships are fully-funded (fees and maintenance) for eligible UK students.

The applicant should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2:1 and a Masters degree in physics, materials science, or a related subject. For informal enquires please contact Dr David Williamson (email

To make an application, follow the procedure outlined on the University website, selecting the course PhD in Physics and making sure to mention the name of Dr David Williamson and the Surface, Microstructure and Fracture Group (SMF Group).

It is IMPORTANT that, when submitting your application, that Dr David Williamson is notified by e-mail at .

Due to the nature of the work undertaken by dstl, University Personnel engaged in any Research Project shall normally be required to meet special nationality rules. To be eligible, the individual may be required to undergo security clearances and unless otherwise authorised should normally be a British Citizen as defined in the British Nationalities Act 1981.

We particularly welcome applications from women and /or candidates from a BME background for this vacancy as they are currently under-represented at this level in our department/institution/Faculty/School/University.

If you have any questions about this vacancy please contact Dr David Williamson (

Please quote reference KA28368 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

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