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PhD Studentship in Neutron and synchrotron X-ray studies of local structure in metallic and intermetallic alloys

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship studying the local structure in metallic and intermetallic alloys using neutron and synchrotron X-ray scattering.  The studentship is fully funded for a UK student and will run for up to four years from October 2018. It will be co-located between the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge and the ISIS Neutron Source at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.


The majority of commercially available alloys rely on solid solution strengthening, by which atoms of different size are embedded within and distort the crystal structure, in order to improve the alloy’s mechanical properties.  Historically, it has been assumed that solid solutions contain a random mixture of the constituent elements.  However, this is an oversimplification and regions of short-range order may form under certain conditions that can have an enormous influence on material properties. Despite its importance, such short range order is rarely characterised, owing to the challenges in performing the necessary experiments and analysing the data.


Recently, total scattering, a powder-diffraction based technique in which both Bragg and diffuse scattering are measured and analysed simultaneously, has been developed to provide detailed measurements of short-range order in alloys. This PhD studentship will build upon this research to study local order in solid solutions, precipitation of superlattice compounds and order-disorder transitions in alloy systems.  The research will require the development of the existing tools to enable the analysis of systems containing preferred crystallite orientations and multiple phases. This will require the creation of simple programs (using, for example, Python or Fortran).  In parallel, experimental studies of alloys will be performed using international neutron and synchrotron facilities.  These will initially focus on studying model alloy systems, before extending these techniques to commercial alloys with more complex chemistries. In addition to neutron and synchrotron X-ray scattering, this work will also require metallurgical sample preparation and both scanning and transmission electron microscopy.


Applicants should have (or expect to be awarded) a good honours degree in a relevant science subject (Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science) and should meet the EPSRC criteria for UK/EU residency and liability for 'home rate' fees.


Application forms and the Graduate Studies Prospectus are available from the Board of Graduate Studies web site and copies of these documents are available via Further information on the application process is available from Dr Rosie Ward (


Informal enquiries may be made by email to either Dr Howard Stone
( or Dr Helen Playford (

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