Functional surface design and fabrication using metal additive manufacturing technology


Self-funded PhD students only

Project code



School of Mechanical and Design Engineering

Start dates

October and February

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a 3 year PhD to commence in October 2020 or February 2021.

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

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 characterisation of new surfaces and interfaces
  • Enhancing international collaborative work with partners in 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 advance 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.

Fees and funding

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

2020/2021 entry (for October 2020 and February 2021 entries)

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a

International full-time students: £16,400 p/a

International part-time students: £8,200 p/a

PhD by Publication

External candidates £4,407 p/a

Members of staff £1,680 p/a*

2021/2022 entry (for October 2021 and February 2022 entries)

PhD and MPhil

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a*

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a* 

International full-time students: £17,600 p/a

International part-time students: £8,800 p/a

All fees are subject to annual increase.

PhD by Publication

External Candidates £4,407 p/a*

Members of Staff £1,720 p/a*

If you are an EU student starting a programme in 2021/22 please visit this page.

*This is the 2020/21 UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) maximum studentship fee; this fee will increase to the 2021/22 UKRI maximum studentship fee when UKRI announces this rate in Spring 2021. 

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university 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.

The PhD candidate will 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. The PhD student will have a strong interest in surfaces and interfaces, and advanced surface fabrication and characterization.

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 PhD opportunity you must quote project code SMDE5420220 when applying.

October start

Apply now

February start

Apply now

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