Laser shock and shot peening induced surface nanocrystallisation

Eligibility: UK/EU/International graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/EU/International)

Duration: Full-Time – up to four years fixed term

Application deadline: 10 May 2021 (4pm GMT)

Interview date: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2021

For further details contact: Informal enquiries are essential before application; please contact Professor Michael Fitzpatrick and Dr Vit Janik at Coventry University, and Dr Wei Yuefan at A*STAR Singapore


Coventry University and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research in Singapore (A*STAR) are inviting applications from suitably qualified UK/EU/international graduates for one fully-funded PhD studentship for the project ‘Laser shock and shot peening induced surface nanocrystallisation’.

By engaging in research in the United Kingdom and Singapore, the programme offers researchers the opportunity to access to the state-of-the-art research facilities and advance their knowledge and expertise in the fields of materials and manufacturing engineering, whilst developing their intercultural skills and making international networks and collaborations.

About the project

Laser shock peening (LSP) and shot peening (SP) can largely improve the fatigue performance of metallic components by introducing compressive residual stress. Upon the peening process, high energy impacts the surface of the component in a manner of laser shock wave or large amount of small spherical peening media following by movement, formation and rearrangement of defects, such as dislocations and twins. This leads to the possible generation of new grain boundaries and grain refinement.

It has been demonstrated that the improvement in mechanical properties and fatigue life of the metal alloys is related to the defects and microstructural variation incurred by the peening process. However, the grain refinement evolution behaviour and mechanism under peening is still unclear. This is critical for materials surface engineering and its practical applications, such as additive manufacturing industrialization.

The objective of this PhD programme is to investigate the mechanism of the grain refinement during the LSP and SP process using various characterisation techniques. This programme will provide useful insights for surface nanocrystallisation from the fundamental point of view. The scopes of this programme include the following:

  • Conduct comprehensive literature studies on recent development and prior arts in surface nanocrystallisation induced by LSP and SP
  • Carry out systematical study on the effect of peening parameters and material properties on grain refinement behaviour of LSP and SP using scanning / transmission electron microscopy (SEM / TEM), X-ray Diffraction (XRD), electron back scattered diffraction (EBSD), etc.
  • Develop a solid understanding of the correlation between the grain refinement behaviours of (additive manufactured) metal alloys and their fatigue performance through a combination of experiments as well as computational modelling.
  • Demonstrate the criteria in engineering and optimizing the metallic component by LSP and SP processes to favour their fatigue performance and mechanical properties.

How will the joint programme work?

The successful candidate will enrol at Coventry University, UK as their home institution and will spend up to 2 years at the A*STAR Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC).

A typical 4-year pattern of attendance is shown below, although the actual plan of study and timings at each location will be developed in the light of the details of the proposed research project as defined in the early stages of the project, and with the mutual agreement of the supervision team.


Study Place



Coventry Uni, UK

Tuition fee waivers + Stipends


ARTC Singapore

Tuition fee waivers + Stipends


ARTC Singapore

Tuition fee waivers + Stipends


Coventry Uni, UK

Tuition fee waivers + Stipends

Funding details

Coventry University and A*STAR jointly offer one (01) fully-funded PhD studentship to UK/EU or international applicant as part of the A*STAR Research Attachment Programme (ARAP). 

Each studentship will include:  

  • Full tuition fees
  • A stipend f (c.a. £15000/year) for the 2 years based at CU, subject to satisfactory progress

During the period at ARTC, Singapore*:

  • A monthly stipend of S$2,500 for the period that the student is based at the A*STAR, subject to satisfactory progress
  • A one-time settling-in allowance of S$1,000 provided the student spends at least a 1 year at the A*STAR;
  • A one-time airfare grant of S$1,500;Conference allowances; and
  • Medical insurance.
    *For a minimum period of 1 year, up to a maximum period of 2 years


  • Throughout the programme the candidates will have a joint supervisory team and work in close collaboration with industry stakeholders in both UK and Singapore.
  • The successful candidates will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills at the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development at Coventry University.

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Metallurgical Engineering or Solid State Physics, with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average; 
  • In the event of an undergraduate degree classification of less than 2:1, a Master’s Degree in a relevant subject area as mentioned above will be considered as an equivalent; 
  • The Masters must have been attained with minimum overall marks at merit level (60%). In addition, the dissertation or equivalent element in the Master’s Degree must also have been attained with a minimum mark of merit level (60%); 
  • Minimum English language proficiency of IELTS Academic 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component, if you are an EU (non-UK) or international applicant.

Desirable specifications include:

  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within 4 years;​ 
  • Previous experience, through project work, of stress analysis or materials characterization would be advantageous (SEM, EBSD, TEM);  
  • Knowledge of related software desirable: MS Office, Origin, Matlab, and/or ABAQUS.
  • Ability to think innovatively and critically analyse data and results; ​ 
  • Good written and oral communication skills;​ 
  • A record of presenting papers at conferences and of publishing peer reviewed research papers (desired); ​ 
  • Ability to work independently and also as part of a local and international multidisciplinary team;​ 
  • Willingness to take on roles to enhance research team activities and profile.
  • Degrees from high-ranking universities, high-quality recommendations, and related research experience will be important for successful application.
    Please be aware that A*STAR have in place their own separate application reviewing process.

How to apply

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project and at least, 2 recommendation letters from past supervisors.

To find out more about the project, please contact  Professor Michael Fitzpatrick, Dr Vit Janik and Dr Wei Yuefan.

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