University of Cambridge

Job Opportunities


Fully-Funded (Home/EU Rate) PhD Studentship (Fixed Term) - Neutron and synchrotron X-ray studies of local structure in metallic and intermetallic alloys

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 4 years in the first instance.

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 commercial 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 using conventional methods.

Recently, total scattering, a powder-diffraction based technique in which both Bragg and diffuse scattering are measured and analysed simultaneously, has been used to provide information on the local atomic structure in a host of interesting chemical systems, such as functional oxides, metal organic frameworks, network glasses, bulk metallic glasses etc. Collaborative research between the Cambridge and the ISIS neutron source has explored the potential of this methodology for the analysis of local-structural effects 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 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) coupled with experimental studies of alloys 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 (

Please quote reference LJ15659 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.