Mechanical Engineering


Shaping the Additive Manufacturing Process through an Engineering Lens

A fully funded PhD studentship in the Department of Mechanical Engineering

Key information

Lead supervisors: Dr Chu Lun Alex Leung and Prof Peter D Lee
Application deadline: ongoing
Project start date: flexible
Project duration: 3 years
Eligibility: open to UK and European students
Studentship funding: Home tuition fees (currently £5,690/year) and maintenance stipend (currently £19,668/year)
Project location: UCL Harwell campus and UCL Bloomsbury campus

PhD project description

Laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) is a digital manufacturing technology that fuses powder particles into components, layer-by-layer, directly from a digital file. LPBF can manufacture topologically optimised parts with a high buy-to-fly ratio, reducing the payload for aerospace components. Though, LPBF parts suffer from process-induced defects and exhibit poor surface finish, both irregularities lower their fatigue performance. Poor surface finish can also be non-compliant with the cleanliness requirements of space application. There is a link between poor surface finish and the metal vaporisation process during LPBF, however, the underlying phenomena are not well understood.

This project is partly funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and is also integrated with the UK’s hub for Manufacturing with Advanced Powder Processes, Materials Made Smarter Research Centre, and Manufacturing by Design consortium. The PhD research will be based at the Harwell Campus. You will have opportunities to use advanced characterisation facilities at ESA, the Harwell Campus, UCL Bloomsbury Campus, Henry Royce Institute, European Synchrotron Radiation Facilities, and other large facilities worldwide.

The successful PhD candidate will develop novel processing technologies to minimise metal vaporisation during LPBF to produce components with smooth surfaces. You will develop novel beam shaping techniques whilst performing flagship X-ray imaging of the LPBF process to evaluate the impact of such technologies. You will utilise a data-driven approach to provide an in-depth understanding of the laser-matter interaction, including multi-phase flow, and solidification behaviour, and ways to design next-generation engineering tools for process and product optimisation. The end goal is to develop a sustainable manufacturing framework to produce next-generation advanced propulsion components with desirable properties.

Person specification

Applicants should ideally have a first-class, or equivalent, undergraduate degree in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, or a related discipline.

Excellent organisational, interpersonal, and communication skills, along with a stated interest in interdisciplinary research, are essential. 

Ideally, you will have experience in one, or more, of the following:

  • Metallurgy
  • Physics
  • Optics design
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Image analysis
  • Process modelling
  • Matlab and Python programming


This PhD studentship is open to students from the Member States and Cooperating States of the European Space Agency, including the UK and most European countries.

How to apply

Eligible applicants should first contact Dr Chu Lun Alex Leung (alex.leung@ucl.ac.uk) and Prof Peter D Lee (peter.lee@ucl.ac.uk). Please enclose the following documents:

  • A one-page statement outlining suitability for the project
  • A two pages CV (including contact details of two referees)

After discussing the project with Dr Leung and Prof Lee, eligible applicants should also submit a formal PhD application via the UCL website.

The supervisory team will arrange interviews for short-listed candidates.