Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Mohammad Uddin

Main Campus
Mawson Lakes

Applications Close
19 Dec 2022

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:
No stipend available

About this project

Fibre-metal laminates (FMLs) with high specific strength, energy absorption capacity, fatigue resistance, fracture toughness are on high demand and widely used in automotive, aerospace, defence and marine industries. Adhesion and cohesion characteristics is influenced by type of adhesive and surface activation energy of FMLs. Current epoxy based adhesive still lacks such crucial properties, resulting in early failure. On the other hand, current surface pre-treatment is toxic acid bath based anodization, which causes severe environmental hazards, thus requiring stringent safety regulations, thus costing industry a significant investment. This has been a pressing challenge for many Australian composite industries.

To address the above, this project proposes an innovative process for developing fibre-metal laminates. In this process, first graphene nano-platelets (GNPs) will be added into epoxy adhesive. GNPs will restrict the intermolecular movement of epoxy around fibres and hence prevent relaxation of polymer chain, thus reducing water absorption, corrosion attack and increasing cohesion, toughness at the interface. Secondly, the project proposes an environment friendly laser surface pre-treatment to prepare metal adherend surface with an aim to further increase the bonding strength. As a controlled non-contact process, laser will modify surface with tailored surface micro-texture and surface activation energy, which are crucial to increase the desired surface integrity and adhesive bonding strength between metal and fibre composite.

What you’ll do 

Activities involved in the project are:

(i)         Experimental development to prepare and bond GNPs induced epoxy adhesives with fibre composite sheets

(ii)         Conduct laser surface pre-treatment on metal surfaces and determine optimum process conditions for higher surface activation energy 

(iii)        Characterise surface integrity and perform corrosion resistance, water absorption, aging effect, bonding strength, impact resistance of FMLs 

(iv)        Build and validate a numerical model to predict failure characteristics of FMLs

(v)         Validate the performance of FMLs developed by the proposed manufacturing technique with the current FML manufacture practice

The student will have the opportunity to attend national and international conferences in the areas relevant to the project to disseminate the project findings and build professional networks. The student will time to time visit and work closely with industry partners/end-users to see the connection between academic research and industrial perspectives. Through the project, the student will be exposed to the state-of-the-art research equipment and methodology that will further strengthen his/her skill and experience for reliable and accurate characterisation and assessment of research findings.

Where you’ll be based

The student will predominantly work across UniSA STEM research groups led by Mohammad Uddin and Jun Ma. Groups have regular group meetings and activities that the student will be expected to attend, present and develop their communication skills. Working across vibrant and engaging groups, the student will be given an opportunity to build their social and professional networks.  In the course of the project, the student will be exposed to STEM¿s state-of-the-art facilities, equipment and tools required to implement the project activities. Groups often host undergraduate intern and vacation scholarship students, giving PhD students the opportunity to develop their supervisory skill. In addition, the student will potentially have the chance to participate in undergraduate teaching in mechanical, manufacturing and material courses, which will allow them to develop their communication and teaching & learning skills

Supervisory Team 

Financial Support 

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. A fee offset for the standard term of the program is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders.  Additionally, any Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicant who holds an offer of admission without a living allowance will be eligible for the Aboriginal Enterprise Research Scholarship. This scholarship is to the value of $45,076 per annum. Any Aboriginal Enterprise Research Scholarship recipient will also receive a fee waiver. Where an international applicant holds an external scholarship or sponsorship a full or partial fee waiver may apply in some circumstances for exceptional applicants.  Other international applicants will be required to pay full tuition fees of approximately $38,900 per annum (2023 rates).  

Eligibility and Selection 

This project is open to application from both domestic and international applicants. Additionally applicants must meet the projects selection criteria:
  • In-depth knowledge and understanding on material science and engineering including mechanical characterizations
  • Good knowledge in traditional manufacturing techniques used for material processing
Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. 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 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 Monday, 19th December.

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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