Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Professor Thong Pham

Main Campus
Mawson Lakes

Applications Close
26 Sep 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:

All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
32,500 p.a. available to domestic and international applicants

About This Project 

This project develops an innovative protective structure with mechanical features not existing in nature to resist impact/blast loads. It converts loading energy into kinetic energy through local vibrations of metacores for structure protection. Compared to conventional protective structures, this structure is lighter, suffering less plastic deformation whilst offering comparable protections.

With the rise of terrorist activities in recent years, as well as accidental explosions owing to the increment in population and industrialization, unexpected explosions with catastrophic consequences have threatened public security worldwide causing major loss of human lives and economy. In particular, the years 2014-16 saw more fatalities reported by terrorist attacks than all previous years combined, and the deadliest attack of this period has been the November 2015 Paris attack, among which 130 people were killed. The immediate costs of terrorist acts including the destruction of properties and depression of short-term economic activities are compounded by the costs associated with the continuing threat of terrorism. As reported, over 18 years from 2000 to 2018, terrorism cost the world economy $855 billion . For effective life and economic protection, the construction industry has been confronting an increased challenge of the escalating demands to protect structures against the blast waves and flying debris from explosions, leading to the significant advancement in developing protective systems for effective protection of critical structures. The development of advanced methodologies for the attenuation of the broadband blast-induced shock wave propagating through structural systems has been a long-standing arduous task in many fields of engineering. Whereas solid monolithic structures and porous materials are currently popular candidates for protective structures, the underlying reasons to refrain from using these types of structures are that they are likely to be cumbersome and bulky, making them incapable of resisting multiple attacks.

What you’ll do 

This project develops a new protective structure that resists the induced stress wave by new features beyond the natural material’s characteristics. The incoming energy will convert into kinetic energy of vibrating cores and these cores will be carefully designed so that they move out of phase and cancel each other. As a result, the incoming blast waves energy is not cumulated but mitigated by converting into kinetic energy of core vibrations. By using this new feature, this project proposes a cutting-edge meta-panel functioning as a protective layer that possesses all the properties of a typical sacrificial cladding and more. This proposed design possesses the unprecedented potential to replace traditional load mitigation solutions associated with the added excessive material, mass, assembly time, and overall cost. Moreover, more energy can be absorbed by virtue of the mechanism combination including the plastic deformation and the local resonance. Converting blast wave energy to local core vibrations can effectively mitigate plastic deformation for energy absorption, thus enhance the chance of the protective panel to resist the repeated attacks. Through extensive investigations, this research intends to create a new class of programmable meta-panel that can achieve desirably mechanical property against blast and impact loading

The anticipated outcomes of this project can be summarised as follows: 

  1. Propose concept design of a new meta-structures with excellent energy absorption
  2. Verification test of the prototype structure 
  3. Translate the concept design to potential applications in defence, space, and structural engineering
Where you’ll be based 

The student will join a dynamic research community consisting of PhD students, Master's students, final project students, and Early-Career Researchers (ECRs). Our well-equipped facility provides access to advanced technology and resources for conducting in-depth research. The student will work closely with a diverse supervisory team, including ECRs, middle-career researchers, and globally recognized scholars. Located in our prestigious research center/group/lab, the student will benefit from a stimulating environment with regular seminars and networking opportunities. Additional benefits include funding for conferences, collaboration opportunities, publication support, and industry engagement. Overall, the research environment offers a platform for academic growth, research excellence, and professional development.

The supervisory team consists of mid-career (Thong Pham), well-known (Yan Zhuge) and mid-career (Wensu Chen) researchers. 

Thong has been working in the area of structural dynamics, structural protection against multi-hazards, prefabrications, and new and sustainable materials. Pham secured 6 competitive government grants and led seven industry-sponsored research projects, including one ARC discovery project. Thong has published 173 technical publications including 1 book, 1 book chapter, 4 keynote papers, and 141 peer-reviewed journal articles. His publications have been well-regarded by his peers. 10 of his publications have been listed as the most-cited/featured papers in respective journals (SJR Q1). 82% of his papers were published in very-high impact international journals with an impact factor greater than 4, and 92% were published in Scimago Journal Ranking (SJR) Q1 (the highest) category journals. Thong’s publications have attracted 5,032 citations with an h-index of 40 (Google Scholar), and 4,098 citations with an h-index of 37 (Scopus).

Professor Zhuge has published more than 200 SCI technical papers and has been invited as a keynote speaker at several international conferences. She has won several Australian and Queensland government awards and fellowships and attracted funding from Australian Research council and industry. She was the winner of 2018 South Australia Winnovation award in Engineering category. She is the current College of Experts of Australian Research Council (ARC). Associate Professor Wensu Chen's research interests are primarily in structural protection against multi-hazards, development of novel protective structures and materials, structural strengthening and prefab modular structures. His experties are helpful to this project.

Supervisory team

Financial Support 

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses.  Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $32,500 per annum is available to eligible applicants. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $45,076 per annum. A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information for domestic students or international students.

Eligibility and Selection 

This project is open to application from both domestic and international applicants. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. Additionally applicants must meet the projects selection criteria: 

  • Background with structural dynamics and/or structural engineering. Good track-record for a bachelors or masters degree. 
  • Research experience is an advantage, evident by technical papers or equivalent. 
  • Self-motivated attitude and good teamwork skills.
All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate. The successful applicant is expected to study full-time or part-time, and to be based at our Mawson Lakes Campus in the north of Adelaide. Note that international students on a student visa will need to study full-time.

Essential Dates 

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer.  Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Tuesday, 26th September.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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