Functional surface design and fabrication using metal additive manufacturing technology


Funded PhD Project (UK and EU students only)

Project code



School of Mechanical and Design Engineering

Start date

October 2021

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three year PhD to commence in October 2021.

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Technology, and will be supervised by Dr Jurgita Zekonyte and Dr Mariana Dotcheva.

Candidates applying for this project may be eligible to compete for one of a small number of bursaries available; these cover tuition fees at the UK rate for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£15,609 for 2021/22). Bursary recipients will also receive a £1,500 p.a. for project costs/consumables. 

The work on this project could involve:

  • Developing strategic research expertise in Additive Manufacturing based in Future   Technology Center (FTC)
  • Additive Manufacturing, including process optimization
  • Novel, functional surface design and fabrication via 3D printing
  • Mechanical, Chemical, Tribological characterization of new surfaces and interfaces  
  • Enhance national and international collaborative work with partners at the University of Southampton, Italy (University of Calabria) and France (ENISE)

From corrosion and fatigue to biofouling, most engineering problems stem from the surface. Bulk material properties are well-known and researched, yet the properties at the surface differ, and often have undesired impact on the overall performance. By controlled surface modifications it is possible to adjust specific properties and tailor material performance according to the application. 

The project aims to develop novel, functional surface design and fabrication using additive manufacturing (AM) techniques with a view to improve surface performance through targeted tailoring of its properties for advanced engineering applications including, but not limited to: tribology, chemical resistance, extreme environments and temperatures. 

This project will involve the use of advanced technologies to manufacture, amend, characterize and evaluate a variety of surface structures in order to explore their performance limitations and offer optimized properties through parametric design, process optimization and targeted surface modifications. Multi-functional and textured material surfaces will be studied theoretically and experimentally. The outcomes of the project will be the discovery of optimized surface properties for specific application and the advancement in surface design and characterization.

Metal Additive Technology will be used as a main fabrication process enabling the building of intricate surface geometry and meeting rigorous functional requirements. In achieving this, different techniques will be employed to investigate the impact of process parameters on porosity, material properties and failure behaviour. The emphasis in project objectives will be on the unique advantages that AM can bring to the engineering surfaces as new functions, new innovative design, better performance

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Candidates should  have an undergraduate degree in areas related to surface science such as materials science and engineering, mechanical engineering. Essential previous knowledge in Design and Modelling for Additive Manufacturing. Desirable – knowledge in parametric design, experimental testing, passion to learn new techniques and operating advanced instruments. You will have a strong interest in surfaces and interfaces, and advanced surface fabrication and characterisation.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Jurgita Zekonyte ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.

If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code SMDE6050521 when applying.