PhD Studentship, Department of Physics, Cambridge University, UK

Job Description: Applicants are sought for a fully-funded PhD studentship to be created with an October 2010 start date in the Fracture and Shock Physics sub-group at the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge. The Fracture Group has a long heritage of performing world class experiments in the field of the physics and chemistry of materials:

This is an industry funded experimental PhD to further research in the field of explosives safety and handling; the Cavendish Laboratory has been at the forefront of energetic materials research since the 1940’s.

This project aims to understand an energetic material’s thermal and mechanical response, and how these are degraded when the material becomes damaged. This is important because under certain circumstances the increase in surface area associated with cracking can increase the rate at which the material burns, a positive feedback is created, and the reaction behaviour can (undesirably) transition from burning to detonation.

The materials under consideration are polymer bonded explosives (PBXs) and can be thought of as particulate composites of a granular crystalline explosive in a polymer matrix or binder. The dominant damage mechanism is debonding of the rubbery matrix from the filler particles, degrading the strength and thermal properties as well as creating new surface. The situation is complicated by the viscoelastic nature of the matrix. Topics needing to be addressed are: fracture mechanics, adhesion, strength, rheology, thermal transport, etc.

The student will design insightful experiments and collect data which will aid the construction of a physically based computational model for these materials. This is part of an on-going research programme and will build upon many years of prior effort; the student will be expected to engage and collaborate closely with the industry sponsor.

The successful student will hold a Masters degree in Physics, Materials Science, Engineering or a related subject. Specialist prior knowledge is welcome but not mandatory. We anticipate applicants to be 2010 graduates who will be new to these specific topics. Application is limited to UK and EU nationals only.

For further information and details of how to apply, enquires should be made to

Dr. David Williamson: [email protected]

* Limit of tenure: October 2013.
Vacancy Reference No: KA06843

Closing date: 23 July 2010.

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