Research Studentship in Investigating Irradiation Damage in Fusion Reactor Materials using X-ray Diffraction

3-year D.Phil studentship, available from October 2016 (subject to eligibility requirements below).


Research Summary

Nuclear fusion promises to be the ultimate future energy source; sustainable, environmentally friendly and intrinsically safe. Its commercial development is hindered by a lack of materials that can withstand the intense irradiation inside future fusion reactors. To understand exactly how materials degrade, detailed knowledge of the atomic-scale defects produced by irradiation is essential. To date these defects have mainly been studied using Transmission Electron Microscopy, however the majority of defects are too small to be seen by this technique. Our preliminary measurements have shown that new synchrotron X-ray diffraction techniques can probe these otherwise invisible defects. The goal of this studentship is to develop these X-ray techniques, particularly improving their spatial resolution and sensitivity to defects.

The student will perform experiments at world-leading synchrotron light sources (e.g. Advanced Photon Source (USA), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (France), and Diamond Light Source (UK)). S/he will combine these measurements with computational models that predict how atomic scale defects modify X-ray diffraction patterns. Together these tools will enable us to shed light on the defects produced, how they behave and how they affect the properties of materials inside future fusion reactors.

The DPhil student will be supervised by Prof. Felix Hofmann in the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford. S/he will be funded by The Leverhulme Trust as part of a larger project entitled “Probing the Invisible: Characterising Atomic-Scale Point Defects with X-rays”. S/he will work in a vibrant research environment interacting with colleagues in both Solid Mechanics and Nuclear Materials research communities. Further information about Prof. Hofmann’s research can be found at and additional details about the Solid Mechanics Group in the Department of Engineering Science are available at

Award Value

The studentship covers University and College fees at the level set for UK/EU students plus a stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) of £14,296 p.a. for the first year, increasing in subsequent years.


This studentship is open to all applicants but the University fees are covered only at the UK/EU rate.  Therefore overseas students would have to provide the difference between the UK/EU and the overseas student rates for University fees from some other source, such as a scholarship or personal funds.

Candidate Requirements

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

  • Excellent degree in Engineering, Material Science, Physics, or another relevant discipline;

  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills;

  • Willingness to spend several weeks per year travelling to international synchrotron facilities for experimental work (expenses will be covered).

The following skills are desirable:

  • Ability to program in Matlab;

  • Experience in microscopy;

  • Experience in material defect modelling.


Application Procedure

To apply for this studentship, candidates should send the following documents to

  • CV
  • Covering letter (explaining your suitability for the study, what you hope to achieve from the DPhil, and your research experience to date)
  • Contact details for two academic or professional referees


NOTE: Candidates are expected to meet the graduate admissions criteria available at

 and a full graduate application must be made at the same time as applying for this studentship.  Your studentship application will not be considered until you have submitted a graduate application. Further details about making a graduate application are available at

Please quote this code: FH_LRPG in all correspondence to the department and in your graduate application.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Professor Felix Hofmann ( Please note that applications sent directly to this email address will not be accepted. 

Application deadline: 8th August 2016

A likely date for interviews for this position is Wednesday 17th August 2016.