Advanced continuous carbon fibre reinforced polymer composites, offer a very attractive combination of mechanical properties, environmental resistance and lightweight which make them a superior choice for high performance applications. Some inherent characteristics of carbon fibre composites such as their low through thickness toughness and electrical conductivity, challenging manufacturing, limited recyclability and difficult maintenance and repair hold back the expansion of their application, thus limiting the significant environmental and robustness benefits associated with their adoption.

This project addresses these limitations through the utilisation of through thickness hybrid reinforcing elements offering significant improvements in electrical and delamination properties, the capability to monitor online the manufacturing process and development of damage in the material and the incorporation of heating and cooling. The Composites and Advanced Materials Centre at Cranfield has recently developed new methods of through thickness reinforcement using tufting of metallic elements to improve electrical and mechanical functionalities, new metal wire-based sensors in carbon composites and ways to combine the two and achieve property enhancement and advanced functionality within the same material solution.

This project is inspired by these developments to put forward a solution that will endow composites with improved through thickness electrical and mechanical properties, self-heating and self-monitoring functionalities. Activities in the project will cover hybrid through thickness reinforcement thread development, optimisation of material parameters through simulation, manufacturing of hybridised components, testing and validation of functionality and performance. Validation of the overall development will be carried out based on an aerospace use case.

Successful completion of this research will result in a new composite material combining advanced performance and multifunctionality. Achieving this while using materials and technologies that are fully compatible with the current state of the art will represent significant progress in the context of industrial application. The work will make full use of facilities within the Composites and Advanced Materials Centre including an electrical, thermal and thermo-mechanical characterisation suite, pilot scale composites manufacturing equipment including a tufting robot as well as the Mechanical Testing Lab in the School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing.

At a glance

  • Application deadline15 May 2024
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Start date30 Sep 2024
  • Duration of award4 year
  • EligibilityUK, EU, Rest of world
  • Reference numberSATM405

Entry requirements

Applicants should have an equivalent of first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science/Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Physics, Chemical Engineering or related discipline. The candidates should be self-motivated, have good communication skills, and an interest in industrial research.


This is a self-funded research opportunity. Find out more about tuition fees.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

If you are eligible to apply for this research opportunity, please complete the online application form.

For further information please contact Dr Alex Skordos