HDR Scholarship - The effect of Scandium additions on the microstructure, mechanical and ignition properties of Magnesium alloys

Applications now open

A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'The effect of Scandium additions on the microstructure, mechanical and ignition properties of Magnesium alloys'.

Project Supervisor


Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus

Research topic

This project seeks to understand the impact of Scandium (Sc) additions on oxide formation and ignition of molten magnesium. The introduction of lightweight Magnesium (Mg) alloys in the interior of aircraft has the potential to decrease the weight by 20-30%. However, the lower ignition temperature of conventional magnesium alloys restricts their use in aerospace applications. This project aims to develop a new generation of magnesium alloys having ignition points satisfying the FAA’s criteria, which would allow for their use in the aircraft interior. This will be achieved by the creation of complex multi-layered oxide structures that form alongside MgO via the addition of various suitable elements.

The three primary parameters that determine the effectiveness of an element in forming a protective oxide layer are Pilling-Bedworth ratio, Gibbs free energy and solubility. One element which shows significant promise as an effective ignition inhibitor in Mg and satisfies the above criteria is Scandium (Sc). Preliminary investigations have shown that Sc has a Pilling-Bedworth ratio of 1.18 which puts it in the category of a highly protective oxide layer. Furthermore, Sc oxide has a Gibbs free energy (-1210 kJ/mol) that is lower than that of MgO (-1125 kJ/mol) which means it will form preferentially on the surface of the alloy in the event of oxidation. Finally, Sc has excellent solid solubility of approximately 10 wt% in Mg, preventing the formation of any low melting phases that can significantly reduce the alloy ignition temperature. However, there is extremely limited work that has been conducted on Sc additions in Mg. Some basic studies have shown promising results of Sc additions on increasing the strength of Mg. However, there is a severe lack of detailed characterization and a poor understanding of the specific impact of Sc on the ignition and flammability characteristics.

Project aim

This project aims to further explore these deficiencies through detailed characterization of Sc additions in both pure and commercial Mg alloys. The alloy microstructure, mechanical and ignition properties will be studied in depth using a combination of various characterization techniques already available at IFM. Due to the novelty of this work, it has the potential to further spark interest in the development of an ignition proof aerospace grade Mg alloy as well as produce several high impact publications.

Important dates

Applications will remain open until a candidate has been appointed


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 currently residing in Australia (domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship).
  • 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 Dr Thomas Dorin or Dr Ramesh Kumar Varma

Dr Thomas Dorin
Research Fellow
Email Thomas Dorin
+61 3 522 71481

Dr Ramesh Kumar Varma
Associate Research Fellow, Nickel Alloys
Email Ramesh Kumar Varma
+61 3 522 73728