Biomedical Engineering: Fully Funded EPSRC iCASE and Airbus Operations Ltd PhD Scholarship: Digital Image Correlation for Mechanical Testing at Cryogenic Temperatures (RS578)

  • DeadlineDeadline: 15 April 2024
  • WalesWales


Closing date: 15 April 2024

Funding providers: EPSRC iCASE and Airbus Operations Limited  

Subject areas: Experimental Mechanics, Digital Image Correlation (DIC), Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Materials, Cryogenics, Hydrogen

Project start date:

  • October 2024 (Enrolment open from mid-September)


Aligned programme of study: PhD in Biomedical Engineering

Mode of study: Full-time

Project description:

Hydrogen is one of the leading candidates for the propulsion of next generation aircraft. Airbus’ Structures Test department is interested in continuously developing and refining an understanding of how materials and components behave when exposed to the cryogenic temperatures required to store hydrogen in its liquid form. The existing methods for instrumenting specimens for tests conducted at cryogenic temperatures are limited. Digital image correlation (DIC) is a non-contact optical measurement technique that can capture full-field displacement and strain on components under test. DIC is highly adaptable and is widely applied in mechanical testing when complex, non-uniform strain fields are expected and where point-based measurements (e.g. strain gauges) are insufficient. With the increasing need to test materials and components at cryogenic temperatures comes the need to instrument these tests with data-rich techniques that function in challenging cryogenic temperatures. The project will aim to develop novel approaches to enable the use of DIC during cryogenic mechanical testing and significantly advance the current instrumentation capabilities in preparation for testing the next generation aircraft.

DIC relies on good optical access and a well-sized, high-contrast pattern with the correct adhesion and deformability for the structure and durability for its environment. Depending on the materials of interest, the surface may become compromised in cryo-temperatures, hydrogen environment as well as the optics themselves, reducing the image quality. Equally in situ mechanical testing with any imaging techniques has its own challenges at low temperatures, e.g., thermal effects on the load train and sample mounts. The Team at the Biomedical Engineering Simulation & Testing Lab (BEST Lab), led by Dr Arora, are actively pushing the boundaries of DIC, as well as particle image velocimetry (PIV) and digital volume correlation (DVC) amongst other image-based experimental mechanics methods. Measurements in challenging conditions are a focus of the Team for >15 years. The challenge of cryo-imaging may require bespoke and novel solutions to the imaging setup. Such challenges working in extreme environments and translation from the lab to fieldwork have been addressed by the Team over the years. The Team has experience working on large structures and field tests, ensuring DIC best practice remains in place in practical industrial settings. Challenges with strain corrections due to variable distortions, pattern durability, application compatibility and technique effectiveness under controlled cryo-temperatures needs to be pursued in this studentship.

The BEST Lab forges a synergy of computational and experimental expertise to deliver fundamental insight, novel technologies, and translational research solutions. The BEST Lab provides a space for interdisciplinary researchers to grow ideas from concept through to manufacture, instrumentation, and testing, alongside advanced computational mechanics, machine learning, and data analytics workflows. For more information on the facilities, a virtual tour is available. The dynamic group (>20 PGR students and Research Staff) leverages expertise in both simulation and testing to deliver high-quality research outputs, as well as services and products, to meet the unique needs of our collaborators in industry. Therefore there will be scope for the student to gain wider skills to work between teams in virtual testing and technique transfer to large-scale components. The Space can host equipment and people for specific projects to ensure translation of research methods from university to industry. Further support from the Advanced Imaging of Materials (AIM) Facility will enable deeper insight to material performance and failure through a variety of imaging techniques including micro-CT.

For more details please see here:

Entry Requirements

Candidates must hold an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University) in Engineering or similar relevant science discipline. If you are eligible to apply for the scholarship (i.e. a student who is eligible to pay the UK rate of tuition fees) but do not hold a UK degree, you can check our comparison entry requirements (see country specific qualifications). We also welcome applications from graduates in computational science or mathematics. Please note that you may need to provide evidence of your English Language proficiency.

English Language: IELTS 6.5 Overall (with no individual component below 5.5) or Swansea University recognised equivalent. Full details of our English Language policy, including certificate time validity, can be found here.

This scholarship is open to candidates of any nationality.

EPSRC ICASE studentships are available to home and international students. Up to 30% of our cohort can comprise international students, once the limit has been reached, we are unable to make offers to international students. We are still accepting applications from international applicants. International students will not be charged the fee difference between the UK and international rate. Applicants should satisfy the UKRI eligibility requirements. 


Please note that the programme requires some applicants to hold ATAS clearance, further details on ATAS scheme eligibility are available on the UK Government website.

ATAS clearance IS NOT required to be held as part of the scholarship application process, successful award winners (as appropriate) are provided with details as to how to apply for ATAS clearance in tandem with scholarship course offer.

If you have any questions regarding your academic or fee eligibility based on the above, please email with the web-link to the scholarship(s) you are interested in.


This scholarship covers the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend at £19,237 for four years.

Additional research expenses will also be available.

The sponsoring company, Airbus, will be engaged throughout in developing ideas and applications with regular reporting expected throughout the project by the successful candidate. The project will involve a 3 month placement at the Aerospace Integrated Research & Test Centre (AIRTeC) where the techniques can be developed and demonstrated in an industrial setting. AIRTeC is a £40 million state of the art facility designed specifically to provide the most advanced working environment and tools for Airbus, suppliers, partners and academia. Collaborating research groups and stakeholders from across disciplines in industry will regularly engage throughout to broaden the development opportunities of the candidate. By the end of the project, the candidate will have acquired a portfolio of skills and external collaborators that will provide a strong footing for future careers in either academia or industry. There is a wide range of expertise within the BEST Lab to support on specialist topics in this project as well as interdisciplinary skills development of the successful candidate.

How To Apply

To apply, please complete your application online with the following information:

1. Course choice – please select Biomedical Engineering / PhD / Full-time / 3 Years / October

In the event you have already applied for the above programme previously, the application system may issue a warning notice and prevent application, in this event, please email where staff will be happy to assist you in submitting your application.

2. Start year – please select 2024
3. Funding (page 8) –

  • ‘Are you funding your studies yourself?’ – please select No
  • ‘Name of Individual or organisation providing funds for study’ – please enter ‘RS578 – Cryogenic Temperatures’

*It is the responsibility of the applicant to list the above information accurately when applying, please note that applications received without the above information listed will not be considered for the scholarship award.

One application is required per individual Swansea University led research scholarship award; applications cannot be considered listing multiple Swansea University led research scholarship awards.

We encourage you to complete the following to support our commitment to providing an environment free of discrimination and celebrating diversity at Swansea University:

As part of your online application, you MUST upload the following documents (please do not send these via email). We strongly advise you to provide the listed supporting documents by the advertised closing date, where possible:

  • CV
  • Degree certificates and transcripts (if you are currently studying for a degree, screenshots of your grades to date are sufficient)
  • A cover letter including a ‘Supplementary Personal Statement’ to explain why the position particularly matches your skills and experience and how you choose to develop the project.
  • Two references (academic or previous employer) on headed paper or using the Swansea University reference form. Please note that we are not able to accept references received citing private email accounts, e.g. Hotmail. Referees should cite their employment email address for verification of reference.
  • Evidence of meeting English Language requirement (if applicable).
  • Copy of UK resident visa (if applicable)
  • Confirmation of EDI form submission (optional) 

Informal enquiries are welcome, please contact Dr Hari Arora (

*External Partner Application Data Sharing – Please note that as part of the scholarship application selection process, application data sharing may occur with external partners outside of the University, when joint/co- funding of a scholarship project is applicable.

Who is eligible to apply?

This scholarship is open to candidates of any nationality.

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