HDR Scholarship - Using electrochemically initiated radical polymerisation to develop novel sizing for carbon fibres in high temperature applications.

Applications now open

A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'Using electrochemically initiated radical polymerisation to develop novel sizing for carbon fibres in high temperature applications'.

Project Supervisor

Associate Supervisor


Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus

Research topic

A fundamental requirement for a high performance carbon fibre reinforced composite is a high degree of interfacial adhesion allowing for efficient stress transfer from the polymeric support to the reinforcing fibres. In high temperature applications (≥ 500 °C), the fibre ‘sizing agent’ which is provided from manufacturers is largely unstable and decomposes well before these temperatures are reached, resulting in a poor fibre-to-adhesion. In lieu of a commercial sizing agent, carbon fibres used in these applications are coated in a mixture of naphthalene and aluminium (III) chloride, which serves to graphitize and provide some degree of adhesion.
This project seeks to use the innate conductivity of the carbon fibres as a means to grow polymers onto the surface of the carbon fibres, which are prone to graphitisation at high temperatures.

In this project, the scope and potential of novel grafting strategies will be realised using an array of aromatic structures for application in high temperature resins and using these polymers as a means to deposit nanomaterials for advanced composites.  The effect of these surface modifications on IFSS in epoxy-based systems will be realised at Deakin, while interaction with AFRL at Wright-Patterson AFB and Aerospace Systems Directorate, Edwards AFB will facilitate the nanomaterials and high temperature aspects, respectively.

Project aim

The polymerisation approach used in this project, Solution Phase Electroinitiatied Polymerisation (SEEP), has been carried out on metals and idealised carbon surfaces (glassy carbon, HOPG, etc). This project will involve the use of electrochemical radical polymerisation, the synthesis of new monomers for this process, their purification, characterisation, and reaction.  Evaluation of these materials after grafting will be required via the use of SEM, TGA, XPS, and physical analysis using tensile testing and the manufacture of small composites.

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Friday 30 August 2019.


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $27,596 per annum tax exempt (2019 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate or overseas
  • International students only: Tuition fee and overseas health coverage for the duration of 4 years

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be either a domestic or international candidate
  • meet Deakin's PhD entry requirements
  • be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master's degree with a substantial research component.

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.

How to apply

Please apply using the expression of interest form


Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact A/Prof Luke Henderson

A/Prof Luke Henderson
Associate Professor of Materials Chemistry
Email Luke Henderson 
+61 3 522 72767