Development of chromium-based coatings for improved safety and performance in hostile environments

  • DeadlineDeadline: 31 May 2024
  • North West, All EnglandNorth West, All England


This project will focus on the production and testing of new coatings for cladding material used in nuclear fuels, that will be designed to provide increased oxidation resistance coupled with resistance to mechanical damage. The development of these coatings will contribute to enhancing the safety and efficiency of nuclear power plants, which are a key component of the UK’s low carbon energy strategy on the route to net zero.

The coatings will be produced and characterized in the Surface Engineering Laboratory at Manchester Metropolitan University, which is equipped with state-of-the-art deposition and testing facilities and also at our industrial partner’s site. The project will include industrial supervision as well as travel to attend conferences and meetings both within the UK and globally.

The appointee will be part of an experienced team of academic and industrial researchers and will be provided with all necessary training and supervision to achieve the aims of the project.

This is an exciting opportunity to undertake cutting-edge research and development into new products in the low-carbon energy sector.

This project aims to improve the performance of fuel rod claddings through the introduction of a protective surface coating, which will be deposited using magnetron sputtering techniques.

To achieve this, we will develop novel chromium alloy coatings with improved chemical and mechanical properties, and to explore other innovative coating strategies to optimise the performance of the coatings.

Entry Requirements

The candidate will have a background in engineering or materials science and a keen interest in research. Experience of thin film deposition (PVD) and characterisation (for example SEM, EDX, XRD, wear testing) techniques will be a distinct advantage.

The candidate will need to demonstrate adaptability due to the multi-disciplinary nature of the work, and the capacity to carry out experimental work safely, and with precision.

An ability to work as part of a diverse team, meet deadlines and produce reports and presentations of a high standard to a range of audiences is essential.

Applicants will require initiative, self-motivation, good communication skills, and the ability to critically evaluate their work.

A willingness and ability to travel is an advantage, as the project may involve a short period of work at collaborating groups.


This is a full-time, funded PhD opportunity in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Department of Engineering. It is open to both Home and Overseas students. Please note that only Home fees will be covered - eligible overseas students will need to make up the difference in tuition fee funding.

This opportunity provides an annual stipend of the research council minimum rate (set by UKRI) of £19,237 for 2024/25.

How To Apply

Interested applicants should contact Professor Peter Kelly for an informal discussion.

To apply you will need to complete the online application form for a full-time PhD in Engineering (or download the PGR application form).

You should also complete the PGR thesis proposal form addressing the project’s aims and objectives, demonstrating how the skills you have maps to the area of research and why you see this area as being of importance and interest. 

If applying online, you will need to upload your statement in the supporting documents section or email the application form and statement to Closing date: 31 May 2024. Expected start date: October 2024.

Please quote the reference: SciEng-PK-2024-Nuclear-Fuel-Rods

Who is eligible to apply?

 It is open to both Home and Overseas students. Please note that only Home fees will be covered - eligible overseas students will need to make up the difference in tuition fee funding.

Manchester Metropolitan University Campus

Where is Manchester Metropolitan University?