Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

1. Graphene related materials-structural self-healing Araldite adhesives

Structural adhesives are used in the automotive, space, aviation and naval industries for structural parts. Within this proposal, the potential PhD candidate will develop a new class of composite adhesives combine enhanced mechanical and self-healing properties based on Araldite resins. He/She will investigate several Araldite adhesives with the addition of thermoplastic copolyesters and graphene flakes. These adhesives will overpass and replace the commercial engineering Araldites in several applications.

2. Design of multi-functional hierarchical 3-phase GRM composites

The progress beyond the SotA on the design and modelling 3-phase graphene related materials (GRM) composites is limited when considering a fully coupling and integration of mechanical properties with multiphysics fields mainly the electrical conductivity. Within this proposal, the potential PhD candidate will develop a rigorous consistent thermodynamics framework accounting for materials behaviour coupled with exceptional thermal properties and electrical conductivity of GRM composites for wider applications.

3. Lightweight self-healing architectured graphene-based nacre nanolaminates

Within this proposal, the potential PhD candidate will develop smart lightweight hierarchical graphene-based bulk nanocomposite material based on a novel concept for intelligent components with nacre nanolaminated architectures that integrate self-healing functionality and high damping performance for structural applications. This smart material with enhanced structures and its integrated functionality enable ease communication and interaction with their surroundings.

4. Upscaling to industry – graphene related materials-based composites design and optimization

Within this proposal, the potential PhD candidate will reach an advanced maturity to move from model development to application and upscaling for industrial application. The materials design to link chemical and physical composition, microstructure and effective properties at a macroscale. Upscaling to industry to be built based on high performance materials design, prototype structures and optimising performance, and integrated environment platform to balance accuracy and speed.

5. Material modelling and simulation of graphene composites and hierarchical composites under extreme conditions

Within this proposal, the potential PhD candidate will study development of fundamental material models capable of characterising behaviours in graphene composites and hierarchical composites materials HCM, considering chemical and physical factors dictate the trade-offs between characteristics, as strength vs. ductility and toughness He/She will develop novel constitutive laws CLs including progressive damage, failure criteria, interfaces, and behaviours under extreme conditions (crash, high pressure and stress, strain arte, low and high temperature, fatigue, vibration, welding process, etc.). The new CLs and associated algorithms relate the intrinsic properties and the rheological, electrical, mechanical, and thermal of the new composites. The new material models will be implemented in end-user FE software (LS-DYNA), validated, and will be available for use widely. Once numerical model of particular components is developed, several load conditions will be investigated at low cost. Potential structural applications (e.g. automotive, aerospace, etc.) will be identified together with respective simulations with the developed FE models. Comprehensive optimisation of geometry/material distribution will be studied for defined structural components.

6. Mechanical testing and damage analysis of hierarchical composites

Within this proposal, the potential PhD candidate will capture multiscale evolution in a consistent computational framework and predict their effect on macroscopic performance and failure. Experimental tools, ranging in scale from bench-top laboratory instruments to major national user facilities, will be used to measure the resulting physical and mechanical effects of materials under severe conditions quantitatively. The hierarchical composites materials HCM will be tested to determine their static properties, fatigue life, impact damage resistance and failure characteristics. He/She will also carry out composite testing in different modes (bending, uniaxial tension/compression, creep, fatigue, fracture toughness and stress transfer, impact, etc.) and at different temperature/humidity levels and with different graphene platelets GPL volume fractions and functionalisation will be performed. In addition, the interfacial load transfer characteristics at the GPL-polymer matrix/reinforced fibres interface will be measured, in order to develop an in-depth understanding effectiveness of enhancement of mechanical properties with GPL additives, extension the lifetime, and improving the behviours of HCM under extreme conditions.

7. Development of novel graphene hybrid-supercapacitors

Within this proposal, the potential PhD candidate will develop a supercapacitor film-based graphene (GSCf) as potential application for electrical vehicle’s battery replacement. The GSCf is exceptionally thin and strong and releases energy very quickly needed for a high acceleration rate. He/She will work to increase the amount of energy to be released as a candidate for mass-storage batteries with charging time of a few minutes. He/She will investigate the how these GSCf will be integrated into several places areas of the vehicle structure to maximise the energy storage, and significantly reducing the vehicle weight by excluding the traditional battery form the structural design. Hence, he/she will develop novel metal oxide anchored nanocarbon graphene foam nanoarchitectures that improve the performance of supercapacitors, a development that could mean faster acceleration in electric vehicles and longer battery life in portable electronics. He/She will also explore how nanoarchitectures in term of morphology, particle size, surface area, and pore size/distribution define energy and power performance. Modelling, design characterisation, fabrication and testing of the new GSCf will be carried out.

Personal profile


I have been involved in higher education (HE) for 25 years, leading research teams, teaching programmes, business engagement, and multi-disciplinary collaborative projects in many countries worldwide. I obtained my PhD in Mechanical Engineering from University of Toronto, Canada in September 2004. After three years as a NSERC/JSPS fellow in Canada and Japan, I moved to the University of Sunderland in 2007 (Senior Lecture 2007-2011; Reader, 20011-20012; Professor 2012-2018). Recently, I moved to Northumbria University as Professor of Automotive Composites, Head of Subject (Mechanical Engineering) and and Leader of the Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMT) research group. I am also a Visiting Professor of Vehicle Lightweighting at Hunan University.


My research work focuses on developing robust, reliable and sustainable material solutions (based on graphene and related materials) and implementing new concepts and technologies in industrial scale. It aims to establish and strengthen the link between the development of novel advanced nanocomposites with unique synthesis and functionalities, and the improvement of the modelling capability and the need for securing refined results for the design of real structural components and energy conversion/storage systems. My work outcomes are recognised both nationally and internationally as evident from over 120+ plenary lectures, invited talks, keynotes and presentations; over 180 peer-reviewed research papers and patents. I have received many prestigious awards and grants, including EPSRC (UK), NSERC and OGS (Canada), JSPS (Japan), FP7, Horizon2020, and Graphene Flagship (EU), and several direct national and international projects.


I am also part of the €1bn European Graphene Flagship and leading composites for structural application task. The pioneering project is exploring how graphene can be used to create lighter, stronger, safer and more energy-efficient aerospace and automotive structures. My role leading the graphene structural application in the flagship – alongside partners in Italy, Spain and Germany has created many opportunities to network and engage around the world. In my role, I combine novel ‘concept’ materials with the latest safety design approaches through the development of advanced ultra-light graphene-based polymer materials, efficient fabrication and manufacturing processes, and life-cycle analysis to reduce the environmental impact of future structures.


In addition, my work has come to the attention of the Chinese Government via Hunan University. I am one of only ten professors worldwide invited to join the prestigious Talents-111 project. This Chinese Government led initiative selects leading scientists and funds intensive laboratory-based research projects. The project into vehicle body lightweighting is led by Hunan University and will run for four years from 2016-2020.


I recognise the importance of engaging in professional activities for advancing my career and serving my profession. Therefore, I have been involved in various professional activities: Expert Reviewer for FP7, Horizon2020, EPSRC, Ontario Research Fund and Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation; European Science Foundation Expert; Founding Editor-in-Chief of International Journal of Automotive Composites; Editorial-board member, and reviewer, of high-impact journals; Organiser of international conferences; and Chairman of the International Conference on Automotive Composites. I am also member of CSME, ASME, SAE, JSAE, FISITA, IMechE, Engineering Council (CEng), and Member of the UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowships (UKRI FLF) programme Peer Review College (PRC).


Research interests

My research interests, within my several research teams, lie in the area of advanced nanocomposite materials, graphene related materials (GRMs), GRMs-based smart functional thin films and coatings, multifunctioal protective coating  and surfaces (e.g. self-cleaning, anti-fouling, de-icing), energy materials including batteries, fuel cell and catalysts, energy conversion/storage systems, multi-functional materials modelling and design, and impact and crashworthiness analysis.


Currently, I am working on developing novel hybrid polymer/metal-doped graphene nanocomposites for sustainable energy storage systems; lightweight hierarchical graphene-based nanocomposites with novel concepts and intelligent components that integrate multi-functionality; and conductive adhesives with self-healing ability. In addition, I am working on potential aerospace and automotive applications of multi-functional graphene-based polymer composites, devoting to design, creation, and development of new multifunctional smart materials and improved performances that will underlie the technologies of the future. I face the challenges related to the development, processing and integration of smart graphene-based materials, with new functionalities, and devices in industrially compatible manufacturing processes.


In addition, I am also working on the development of smart lightweight hierarchical graphene-based bulk nanocomposite materials based on a novel concept for intelligent components with nacre nanolaminated architectures that integrate self-healing functionality and high damping performance. This smart material with enhanced structures and its integrated functionality enable easier communication and interaction with their surroundings, and accurate reactions to external spurs. I am also interested in developing unique hierarchy mesocrystals with high-dense exposure facets and anisotropic interfaces and in Synthesis of Nitrogen-Graphene/Metal Oxide Nanostructured Electrodes for Enhanced Performance Fuel Cells.


I aim to produce new technologies and techniques and advance their development approach in a unique direction to create, fabricate, process and model the novel advanced materials to be used in the transport sector (aerospace and automotive industries), in particular, and could be used in other industries (e.g. marine, defence, petrochemicals, oil and gas, energy).


Further Information

JSPS - Invitational Fellowship for Research in Japan (Short Visit Grant); Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship, Japan.

Institutional Newton Fund Official Development Assistance (ODA) Grant, UK

International Collaborative Project: 111-Project, China

EU Graphene Flagship; H2020 GRAPHENE FPA: Graphene-based revolutions in ICT and beyond

EU Graphene Flagship; H2020  Graphene Core 1: Graphene-based disruptive technologies

EU Graphene Flagship; FP7-ICT GRAPHENE: Graphene-Based Revolutions in ICT And Beyond

Collaborative Research Grant; Nihon Nano Tech Limited, Japan

Newton Research Grant- in collaboration with the AUC, Egypt

EPSRC Industrial grants  

Research Grant, UK Local Government - One North East, UK

Research grant, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Scientific Grant, Japan

NSERC-JSPS, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada-Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship, Japan

NSERC-IRF, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Scholarship-Industrial Research Fellowship, Canada

NSERC-PGS B, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Scholarship-Postgraduate Scholarship, Canada

FISITA Fellowship, Barcelona, Spain

University of Toronto Fellowships, Canada

Ontario Graduate Scholarships (OGS), Canada

Dr. Lois K. Smedick Graduate Award for outstanding graduate student, University of Windsor, Canada

National and international projects with partners from USA, China, Japan, EU, UK, and Egypt

Further Information

I have established a number of fruitful national and international collaborations with major aerospace industries, including: Airbus, Aernnova ITRB and Italian Space Agency; and automotive industries, including: BMW VOLVO, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Porsche Rolls-Royce, Ford, and Nissan.


I have worked with a number of highly respected researchers in world-leading laboratories including: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Mascotech Co., National Crash Analysis Center, and George Washington University in the USA; Kyoto University, Institute for Material Research (IMR), National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) Space Structure Laboratory, Tohoku University and Chiba University in Japan; Vibration and Computational Dynamics Laboratory, University of Toronto Ryerson University (NCE Auto21) and Engineering Service Inc. (ESI) in Canada; Applus IDIADA Automotive Technology, Tecnalia, InterQuímica CIDAUT and CTAG in Spain; CNR, Nanesa, DeltaTech, and Adler in Italy; Cambridge, AVID Vehicles, Hyperdrive, HilTech and Tallent Automotive Ltd, Gestamp Automoción, FAR Composites, NetComposites, S3Transportation and AGM in the UK; DynaMore, TGM, Fraunhofer LBF and ICT in Germany; IRTJV and Bertrandt S.A.S. in France; TNO in Holland; Inxidse in Sweden; Hunan, Zhejiang and Shanghai Jiao Tong Universities in China; University of Sao Paulo in Brazil; and many more worldwide.

Further Information

Press ,  News Release and Features

Graphene Flagship yields breakthrough in composites technology for structural applications

Reinforced Plastics, Vol. 62, Issue 3, May–June 2018, Pages 132-137. (Feature)


World’s first prototype composite component


A spotlight on the EC's graphene-enhanced composites for automotive project


Why the future of the car could have a lot to do with pencils than you think




UK Researcher Unveils World’s First Automotive Graphene Composite Component Prototype


A prototype of a car bumper made of graphene composite


Prototype of a Car Bumper Made of Graphene Composite


Modelling the Crashworthiness of Graphene Composites- Materials Today


Improving Composites with ‘Wonder Material’- Materials Today


CKNW Morning News - July 7 - The Future of Cars


The Independent: Working in Graphene Wonderland.


Automotive World Magazine: Automotive Grade Graphene: The Clock is Ticking

This article appeared in the Q2 2015 issue of Automotive Megatrends Magazine


SAE International-Automotive Engineering Magazine:Graphene Composites for Cars



the ENGINEER: Graphene Car Components Enhance Energy Efficiency


TheJournal: University of Sunderland in Cutting Edge Graphene Project


SAE INDIA-MOBILTY ENGINEERING:  Automotive Materials- Graphene Composites for Cars


Green Car Congress: European Consortium Investigating Graphene-based Materials for Lightweight Cars; Energy-Efficient and Safe Vehicles


E&E Engineering and Technology Magazine: Project to examine potential of graphene for car industry


Sunderland Eco: Sunderland University Developing New ‘Wonder Material’ to Make Cars Safer and More Efficient


BIG ONLINE NEWS:  ‘Wonder Material’ Hopes to Revolutionize Automotive Industry


EAI:  Graphene Car Components Enhance Energy Efficiency


BRIGIT: NEW Graphene Composites for Cars


SCIENCE CODEX: Fiat Drives Forward ‘Wonder Material’ to Revolutionize Automotive Industry


Global Automotive Technology:  Graphene Car Components Enhance Energy Efficiency


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Education/Academic qualification

Mechanical Engineering, PhD, University of Toronto

14 Sept 200118 Nov 2004

Award Date: 18 Nov 2004

Civil Engineering, MSc, University of Windsor


Award Date: 1 Jul 2000

Civil Engineering, BSc, Mansoura University


Award Date: 1 May 1987


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