As a research engineer on our International Doctorate programme, you will have unrivalled access to some of the best teaching and industrial expertise in the world, across three universities. While you will be based at Cranfield University and Rolls-Royce, you will also spend time at Warwick and Exeter Universities to give you the broadest possible experience. You will emerge from the four-year programme more confident and better equipped to make a difference to your company and the global marketplace. This opportunity also provides a substantial tax free stipend equivalent to many graduate jobs. Read more Read less

Cranfield University and Rolls-Royce are seeking a top class candidate to undertake research leading to the award of an International Engineering Doctorate awarded jointly by the Universities of Warwick, Exeter and Cranfield.

The focus of this EngD project is to understand the manufacturing and performance of multi-layer Thermal Barrier Coating (TBC) systems, with specific focus on understanding how the design of materials and micro-structures affects the performance of the system, and the potential trades between performance and the manufacturability of the system.

TBC systems are integral to the design of high performance turbine components for gas turbine engines. Turbine components operate under demanding thermal and mechanical conditions, which are then made more challenging due to the complex range of airborne mineral species (commonly referred to as Calcia-Magnesia-Alumino-Silicates or “CMAS”) which can be ingested during operation and can interact with the TBC system to detrimentally impact component life times. The development of TBC systems more durable to these complex environments can enable higher operational temperatures and therefore reduced specific fuel consumption, or increased component durability, which decreases overall component and engine life cycle costs.

Many new CMAS-resistant TBC concepts rely on multi-layer structures to provide the required durability for the range of potential coating degradation modes. The project will involve understanding the deposition and fabrication of these coating, their detailed characterisation, as well as the evaluation of the functionality of the coatings using a range of laboratory based experimental techniques, including: spallation, erosion and impact, CMAS resistance and reflectivity/transmissivity. This project will focus on the Electron Beam - Physical Vapour Deposition (EB-PVD) method for the manufacturing of multi-layered CMAS-resistant coatings, and as part of this should also consider the implications of the final coating design on the manufacturability of real components, considering aspects such as the ease of implementation and aspects such as robust process control.

At a glance

  • Application deadlineOngoing
  • Award type(s)EngD
  • Start dateAs soon as possible
  • Duration of award4 years
  • EligibilityUK, EU
  • Reference numberSATM0087


Cranfield University supervisors: 

Dr Christine Chalk
Prof John Nicholls

Rolls-Royce supervisors:

Dr Gyn Brewster
Dr Matt Appleton

Entry requirements

Candidates should have a minimum of an upper second (2.1) honours degree (or equivalent) preferably in Materials/Mechanical Engineering but candidates other degrees in Engineering or Physical Sciences would be considered.


  • High levels of innovative thought and lateral thinking
  • Excellent analytical and reporting skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Keen experimenter with health and safety awareness
  • Strong computer skills and the ability to learn new software quickly
  • Self-motivated, capable of working with minimal guidance and supervision, and within a team.
  • Enthusiasm for the subject


 Due to funding regulations this project is open to Home/EU students only.

About the sponsor

Sponsored by Cranfield University, this studentship will provide a bursary of~ £20,000 (tax free) plus fees* for four years.

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

For further information please contact Dr Christine Chalk
T: +44 (0)1234 750111 ext: 3501

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