PhD scholarship - Development of high performance out of autoclave resin systems using novel toughening strategies.

A PhD scholarship is available in Coventry University - Deakin University Co-tutelle PhD Programme in Deakin Carbon Nexus. The PhD student, under the guidance of the Chief Investigator, will initiate and conduct research on the topic of ‘Development of high performance out of autoclave resin systems using novel toughening strategies’ led by Professor Russell Varley.

This project is offered as a co-tutelle with Coventry and Deakin Universities. The student will be based at Deakin University in Carbon Nexus with a supervisory team of Professor Russell Varley and Dr. Claudia Creighton (Deakin University) and Dr. James Griffin and Dr. Glenn Miles (MME, Coventry University).

The project is expected to commence on May 2017.

Research topic

Improving both the mechanical and thermal properties of out of autoclave resins whilst maintaining processability.

Aim of the project

The high strength to weight ratio, corrosion resistance and design flexibility of composite materials make them ideally suited for industrial applications of the 21st century. This increased demand however, has also resulted in a never ending need for improved performance and processability at lower cost. 

Nowhere is this more evident in the aerospace and automotive industries, which are turning to out of autoclave resin systems to reduce costs through simpler but more reliable and robust processing methods. 

Out of autoclave resins however, tend to be characterised by poor fracture properties and require modification to achieve satisfactory fracture toughness. Unfortunately, modification tends to reduce processability increasing the risk of poor consolidation and increased void content. 

This project will develop new polymer matrices for out of autoclave technologies and explore the relationship between void content, consolidation, processability and properties.

Specific activities

  1. Synthesis and/or development of new polymer matrices with advanced properties for out of autoclave fabrication.
  2. Explore novel toughening approaches for highly crosslinked matrices.
  3. Optimise processability and characterise mechanical and thermal properties of composite.
  4. Use acoustic emission sensors to optimise structure  and control variability for toughened and untoughened resin systems.
  5. Using Acoustic Emission sensors to detect different damage mechanisms within out of autoclave resin from introduced damage.

Research questions

  1. How does the use of highly ductile modifiers impact processability via resin transfer moulding?
  2. Can void content be related to processing resin parameters such as viscosity and rate of cure?
  3. Can we relate these findings to a real life component?
  4. Can above findings be quantified through AE sensing technologies? 
  5. How does the mode of damage impact the laminate and its effect upon properties?
  6. Can such damage levels be quantified through AE sensing technologies and used for intelligent prediction of failure?

Value and duration


  • A stipend of $26,682 per annum tax exempt (2017 rate)
  • A relocation allowance up to $1,500 (2017 rate) awarded to students who are moving from interstate or overseas in order to study at Deakin
  • Paid sick, maternity and parental leave
  • Tuition fee and overseas health coverage for international students for the duration of 4 years.


3 years

Important dates

Closing date 

20 February 2017

Applicant type

Domestic (Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Resident, New Zealand Citizenship) and International  candidate.

Eligibility criteria

  • Applicants must meet Deakin's PhD entry requirements, be enrolling full-time and hold an Honours degree (First Class) or a Master's degree with a substantial research component in a related field. Please refer to the entry pathways to higher degrees by research for further information.
  • Applicants to this co-tutelle program must meet the additional language requirement of an IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component.

How to apply

Please refer to the how to apply for a research degree page for application information.

Contact details

Primary contact details

If you wish to discuss your research interests and project proposal before applying, please contact Professor Russell Varley via email, phone at +61 3 5247 9577 or Dr Claudia Creighton via phone at +61 3 5227 2392.

Secondary contact details

Contact details for the co-tutelle arrangement:

Associate Professor Luis Afonso
+61 3 556 33461

Further information

The Coventry University (UK) – Deakin University (Australia) co-tutelle PhD programme offers research students an unparalleled international experience, working alongside world-class researchers across two continents. 

Co-tutelle students spend time at both Coventry and Deakin Universities and gain unique exposure to different cultural and scientific environments and substantially increasing employability after graduation.

Further information on: 

Co-tutelle PhD Programmes 

Carbon Nexus, Deakin University 

Professor Russell Varley

MME, Coventry University

Dr. James Griffin