PhD Scholarship in Computational Nanomechanics of Nanocomposites, Ireland

Project Title: Computational Nanomechanics of Nanocomposites
Supervisor: Professor Michael McCarthy, Chair of Aeronautical Engineering
Location: Material and Surface Science Institute, University of Limerick, Ireland (
In Collaboration with: Professor William A. Curtin, Brown University, Rhode Island, USA
Funding Duration: Funding is provided for up to four years from Autumn 2008 (subject to satisfactory progress). Earlier completion feasible.
Funded by: The Higher Education Authority of Ireland, through the PRTLI funded
Project: Nanoscience and Nano-scale technologies for Ireland

Candidates with an engineering, physics, materials science or applied mathematics background are being sought for a four-year Ph.D. scholarship in Computational Nanomechanics of Nanocomposites, beginning Autumn 2008.

The outstanding mechanical properties of nanoscale fibres and tubes (e.g. carbon nanotubes) make them highly attractive as potential reinforcing constituents in polymer, ceramic or metal matrices to form the next generation of advanced composites. However, achievement of high performance materials through this approach requires major advances in processing methods and a fundamental understanding of the mechanics of nanoscale reinforcement, which can be quite different to micron-scale reinforcement. A combined Molecular Dynamics (MD) and Continuum Mechanics (CM) approach will be used to elucidate fundamental mechanics issues involved in nanoscale reinforcement in composite materials. MD will be used to develop nanoscale friction and failure laws for input to and validation of CM models for use in materials design studies. Two particular issues to be studied will be fibre-matrix pullout with varying geometric parameters, and fibre-fibre friction and inter-fibre bonding in nanotube/nanofibre bundles.

The scholarship provides full funding for up to four years (subject to satisfactory progress) and covers an annual stipend to the student (beginning at €16,000 and rising in subsequent years), university fees for EU students, and funding for consumables and travel to conferences. NOTE: this does not preclude finishing is less than four years if progress is rapid. Non-EU students may apply, but should be aware that no additional funding is available to cover overseas tuition fees – this would take a large proportion of the annual stipend.

The project is in collaboration with the prestigious solid mechanics group at Brown University, Rhode Island, USA, and the student will have the opportunity to spend time with Professor W.A. Curtin at Brown.

Applicants should hold (or expect to hold by summer 2008) a 1st Class or Upper 2nd Class Honours degree in the fields of engineering, physics, materials science or applied mathematics, with a strong mechanics and mathematics background. Experience in FORTRAN programming, Molecular Dynamics simulations and/or Finite Element Analysis would be helpful.

Applicants should send a detailed CV to Professor Michael McCarthy (email: michael.mccarthy[ at ] Informal enquiries to same email address.

CLOSING DATE: The position will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate is identified, so candidates are asked to send their CV ASAP. Final closing date is 12 noon, 25th APRIL 2008.