PhD Scholarship in Thermal Barrier Coatings (2020 Entry)
 Reference: 2003ITM_HC
 Length of Scholarships: up to 36 months, subject to satisfactory progression
 Programme  PhD Mechanical Engineering
 School/Department Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering
 Place:  1
 Closing Date:  15 May 2020


The available PhD scholarships cover:

  • Tuition fee
  • Monthly stipend (RMB4,500)
  • Medical insurance with designate providers
  • All above items are covered for up to 36 months based on satisfactory progression
  • All regulations set out in the UNNC PGR Scholarship Policy apply

In addition to the above scholarship, successful candidates also have the opportunity to carry out paid teaching (after complete Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) training) or research assistant duties at UNNC from second year.

Available PhD research areas:

The above scholarship is to support research projects outlined under the following theme: 

Title of the theme: Novel Small Specimen Testing for Thermal Barrier Coatings 

During service, thermal barrier coatings (TBCs) used in land-based gas turbines experience complicated and harsh thermal stress environments. High temperature creep failure is one of the dominant failure modes of TBCs. Due to the multi-scale nature of the TBCs, conventional test methods cannot effectively characterise the creep failure of the TBCs. It is crucial to develop appropriate test method to investigate the high temperature creep behaviour of TBCs. The small punch testing method has the unique advantage in characterising the creep behaviour of the materials in a limited volume. By using the disc specimens with 8 mm in diameter and 0.5 mm in thickness, it allows the creep and structure degradation of the TBCs to be evaluated.

Therefore, in this project, the creep behaviour of the thermally grown oxide (TGO), the yield, ductility and creep characteristics of the metallic bond coat as well as the mechanical properties of the interdiffusion zone in the TBCs are examined. The microscopic creep mechanism of the TGO and bond coat will be studied by scanning electron microscopy and electron backscatter diffraction. The microstructure evolution of the interdiffusion between the bond coat and substrate will be analysed. The deformation interaction among the top coat, TGO and bond coat under high temperature will be investigated. This project aims at revealing the creep failure mechanisms of the multi-scale TBCs, in an attempt to develop novel test methods and manufacturing strategies to inhibit the creep failures of TBCs.

Informal inquiries may be addressed to Dr. Hao Chen (, but formal applications should follow the instructions in ‘How to apply’ section. 

PhD programme structure

PhD programmes at the UNNC are composed of 3 years research and submission is expected within 3 years for full-time students. PhD supervision is undertaken jointly by academics from the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) and the University of Nottingham UK (UNUK). On successful completion, students will be awarded the University of Nottingham PhD degree, and no reference will be made on the degree certificate as to where the degree has been completed. The University of Nottingham PhD degree will be accredited by the Chinese Ministry of Education.


  • Applicants must have a first class honours undergraduate degree or 65% and above for a Masters’ degree from a British university, or the equivalent from other institutions.
  • Applicants must meet the required English language proficiency for the relevant subject area. IELTS 6.5 (minimum 6.0 in all elements) or its equivalent is required for Faculty of Science and Engineering (FoSE) scholarship applicants.
  • More details can be found on the ‘entry requirements’ page of the website.

How to apply

No separate application is required for applying for a scholarship but please make sure you quote the scholarship reference number in your PhD application form. It normally takes 7-8 weeks for a final decision to be made after the closing date.  List of required documents can be found on the ‘how to apply’ page.