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PhD vacancy (4 years) on fatigue testing of composites with advanced instrumentation

Composites are used more and more as structural components in aerospace industry, automotive sector, wind energy applications,… As a consequence, the loads on those composite components are much higher than for secondary components, and can lead to fatigue damage in the composite part. Moreover, the fatigue behaviour of fibre-reinforced composites is much more complex than that of metals, because of the many different fibre/polymer combinations, the heterogeneous nature of the composite, the anisotropic behaviour of the composite and the multitude of damage mechanisms.

In this research project, it is the purpose to test the mechanical response of fibre-reinforced composites in fatigue, but at the same time monitor the micromechanical damage mechanisms that occur during fatigue. This includes matrix cracking, delamination and fibre failure. Besides that, the degradation of the stiffness properties and the possible occurrence of creep and visco-elastic effects should be measured. To that purpose, advanced online and offline instrumentation techniques have to be developed. 
UGent-MMS has already a very long tradition in fatigue testing and monitoring, and has extensive equipment for that. Composite specimens can be tested in various loading scenarios (tension-tension, tension-compression, bending, shear,...), together with online Digital Image Correlation (DIC), video-microscopy and post-mortem inspection with optical and SEM microscopy. The group has also acquired a high-end active thermography system which can be used to monitor fatigue damage.

This PhD project requires a very good experimentalist, who has a thorough background in composites and has experience with fatigue testing and/or advanced instrumentation techniques. The PhD position fits into a larger project, funded by the Dutch Polymer Institute (DPI) in the Netherlands. Along with the experimental PhD track, a postdoctoral track will focus on the modelling of the fatigue damage in composites, based on the micromechanical observations from the experiments in the PhD track. There will be a close collaboration with this postdoctoral researcher and with the DPI industrial partners (Sabic, DSM, Shell, Akzo Nobel, Teijin) that will follow this project.

Only candidates with a Master degree should apply. The candidate should have a strong interest in experimental testing and instrumentation. A background in composites is recommended.

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