Dislocation-twin boundary interaction in magnesium alloys 

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Magnesium alloys is the most promising material system for weight-saving structural applications where their low density is critical to save energy and protect the environment by reducing CO2 emissions. A key limiting factor of the wider application of magnesium alloys is the poor room temperature formability. To improve the formability of magnesium alloys requires in-depth understanding of the elemental plastic deformation mechanisms.

To understand the detailed deformation mechanisms, atomistic modelling will be performed in Dr Christian Brandl’s group at the University of Melbourne. The focus will be on the discovery of the detailed interaction at the nanometre scale between dislocations and twin grain boundaries using High-Performance Computing. This in-silico observations will guide the experiments and predict emerging measurable phenomena. At the University of Birmingham in Dr Yu-Lung Chiu’s group the student will have access to state-of-the-art in-situ electron microscopy combined with nano and micromechanical testing.

The candidate will spend 18 months to learn and perform the atomistic simulation (based at the University of Melbourne) on dislocation twin interaction. Following that the candidate will be trained on the operation of electron microscopes and the nanomechanical characterization facilities (based at the University of Birmingham) to validate the simulation predictions.  In the final year of the project, the candidate will return to Melbourne to complete the studies and write up the thesis.

It is expected that the candidate will participate international conferences (such as MRS, TMS or Gordon Research Conference) and to produce scientific journal publications to disseminate the outcomes of the project. Occasional visits to collaborating institutions may be needed subject to the project progress.

Project goals

The project aims to:

  1. study the interaction between dislocation slip and twinning in magnesium alloys;
  2. involve systematic experimental investigation fully integrated with computer modelling via the collaboration with two research groups at the University of Birmingham and the University of Melbourne.

Supervision team

*Click on the researcher's name above to learn more about their publication and grant successes.

Who we are looking for

We are seeking a PhD candidate with the following skills:

  • Demonstrated experience in the field of engineering (materials science & engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering) or physics
  • Demonstrated experience with scientific computation
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Demonstrated time and project management skills
  • Demonstrated ability to write research reports or other publications to a publishable standard (even if not published to date)
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Demonstrated organisational skills, time management and ability to work to priorities.
  • Demonstrated problem-solving abilities.

Further details

  • The PhD candidate will benefit from the combined expertise of the project supervisors, and the embedding into two research environments.
  • This PhD project will be based at the University of Melbourne with a minimum 12-month stay at the University of Birmingham.
  • The candidate will be enrolled in the PhD program at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Melbourne and in the PhD program at the School of Metallurgy and Materials at the University of Birmingham.


To apply for this joint PhD opportunity, and to view the entry requirements, visit How to apply.

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