Metamaterials and Morphing Submarine Structures PhD

Updated: 4 months ago
Location: Cranfield, ENGLAND
Deadline: The position may have been removed or expired!

The PhD is fully funded and sponsored by EPSRC and BAE Systems Submarines.
The PhD will provide a great research opportunity to study innovative designs, simulations and experiments of large strain metamaterial skins with great dimensional stability for integration with morphing submarine structures. Read moreRead less


Morphing technology continuously receives interest from world leading aerospace industries to address sustainability and mobility challenges. Morphing structures, as a biologically inspired design, have an intelligent ability of optimizing their shape in operation using distributed sensors and actuators. The radical continuous shape change attained by morphing technology enhances fluid flow effectiveness and could offer significant improvements in the performance of land vehicles or marine vessels, such as reduced fuel consumption and noise, as well as enhanced manoeuvring capabilities. However, the requirements for morphing structures are conflicting; the structure must be stiff to withstand the external loads, but flexible to enable shape changes, without a negative impact on the weight, complexity and reliability of the morphing systems.

This research project intends to create innovative lightweight mechanical metamaterials with sustained ZPR under large deformations. Large strain ZPR is very important as it leads to longer-life design through low critical stress, while bearing high strains under working loads. This eliminates undesired transverse deformations and curvatures for complex geometries and boundary conditions. This research will resolve these major problems of existing materials and structures for submarine morphing technology. The research plan contains three Work Packages (WPs), and is expected to publish at least one high quality journal paper and a conference presentation from each of the WPs:

  • Design and Shape optimisations of the large strain Mechanical Metamaterials.
  • Experiments and Simulations of Mechanical Metamaterials.
  • Integration of Metamaterials with Morphing Submarine Structures and Proof of concept demonstration; (Importance is given to marine environment such as wave effects, hydrostatic pressure and sea water interaction.)

Cranfield as a specialist postgraduate university with world-class, large-scale research facilities, manages over £40M of new research income across 400 grants and contracts each year. In light of Research Power, CU is ranked 7th in the UK Research Excellence Framework 2021, where 88% of its research is classed as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. CU is ranked in the top ten UK universities for commercial research, consultancy and professional development. Cranfield is ranked 27 for Mechanical, Aeronautical & Manufacturing Engineering in the QS World Rankings 2021. CU provide a niche research in manufacturing for example large scale metal additive manufacturing and has excellent facilities such as the ultra-precision machining laboratory and UK's national facility for large x-ray optics manufacture. Cranfield is at the forefront of aerospace technology as providing world-leading research in collaboration with its strategic partners such as: Airbus, Boing, BAE Systems, DSTL and Rolls-Royce. It hosts a variety of unique aerospace facilities such as: Airport, AIRC and DARTeC.

Dr Dayyani is a member of the Centre for Robotics and Assembly led by Prof. Phil Webb (Airbus Chair in Aero-Structure Design). The centre is renowned for the design, manufacturing and experiment of large aerospace structures. Cranfield has well-equipped laboratories for material characterization, static and dynamic structural testing and crashworthiness. The structural integrity laboratory has a range of equipment to study the structural components and materials behaviour. The centre has extensive expertise in design, fracture and damage analysis, impact and structural stability of advanced lightweight structures and composite materials.

BAE Systems are important industrial partners of this project. Their world leading expertise and HI-TECH facilities in manufacturing advanced materials technologies will help the success of this project. This research supports strategic aspirations of BAE Systems. Their partnership and collaboration benefit this research through sharing experiences on the progress and direction of work as well as providing industrial scale research facilities to help de-risk the exploitation of the prototypes and develop new large scale prototypes with advanced manufacturing techniques. These long-term partnerships increase the impacts of this research.

This research will benefit many national and international researchers by understanding and creating new exotic material functionalities, such as: smart tuneable stiffness and Poisson ratio, 4D printing, superior integration and crashworthiness. This inspires those developing continuum mechanic theories, numerical methods and virtual reality for engineering design, optimising, simulating, manufacturing and experimental reasoning of sustainable materials and lightweight structures. This research will benefit greatly biomaterials and soft robotic medical devices, where tailored stiffness of metamaterials will be used in implants and medical stents, where compliant structure is required in interaction with soft tissues. Inspired by palm trees nature, this research will transform the wind turbines technology through lighter and more flexible morphing blades, making them ideal for offshore use where turbines must withstand windstorms.

To ensure academic disciplines will benefit from this research, the obtained knowledge will be disseminated to the national (for example: UK Metamaterial Network, IMECHE) and international scientific and engineering communities through publication in prestigious journals (Journal of Materials and Design; IF=8), collaborations in large conferences (AIAA SciTech), online open access activities and CU official social media, such as LinkedIn and Instagram. Patent applications will be generated with the help of Research and Innovation Office (RIO) at Cranfield University with respect to fundamental Intellectual Properties (IP) rules defined in the Grant Agreement and negotiations with industrial partners. Further knowledge exchange and business development will be pursued through many strategic relations of Cranfield University with industrial partners and organisations.

This PhD provides several national and international travels, exciting conferences and external trainings.

This is an outstanding environment for a UK PhD student to conduct the proposed research, develop career and build close relationships with BAE Systems to explore feasibility, viability and desirability of the new metamaterials in a scientific and industrial context.


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