Surface Oxides on Advanced High Strength Steels: Effect on Applications and Appearance.

Key Information

Supervisors: Dr Z Abdullah, Dr K Perkins and Dr A Brew.

This post will remain open until a suitable candidate is found and we recommend you apply as soon as possible.

Advanced high strength steels (AHSS) are complex materials formed via exacting processes which impart high tensile strength. Their strict property requirements often necessitate the use of elements which may oxidise at the surface of the steel during processing, causing discolouration. This issue may be minimised by proper process control. However, this may not always be possible, and a decision must be made on whether a particular colour or shade is acceptable. To make this decision, it is critical to identify two aspects: firstly, to accurately, reliably and quickly characterise the surface colour/shade and secondly, to know the end use(s) of the material and understand the relationship between colour and performance.

Some progress has been made in both aspects. Shade has been investigated as potential release criteria, the contact resistance has been measured across the colour severity spectrum to indicate welding performance and phosphating (a key step in electrophoretic paint coating) has been examined in material with varying surface appearance.

This project will involve further development of work performed thus far. One aspect of the project is to develop colour characterisation of an AHSS material using a variety of colour, lightness, shade etc. indicators to gain a good description of the surface appearance that correlates well with its real-life appearance. Another aspect of the project will be to investigate the performance of the material in customer relevant processes and compare these results to the colour assessment. These two aspects will be used to develop release criteria, processes or tools to be used in future production of AHSS. A final aspect of the project shall be the chemical characterisation of the surface, to understand species responsible for the colour. These results shall be compared to steel elemental composition and process parameters to gain a greater fundamental understanding of the issue.

Swansea University is a top 30 UK institution for research excellence (Research Excellence Framework 2014) and has been named Welsh University of the Year 2017 by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.

The Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) in the College of Engineering is a Swansea University initiative which provides postgraduate research training in partnership with industry; providing access to world-class laboratories and a wealth of academic and industry expertise. The M2A is committed to delivering high quality collaborative research opportunities within an inclusive environment, funded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Swansea University and Industry partners.

Research Engineers may participate in our career mentoring system, offering opportunities to engage with M2A alumni and other senior staff from across the University. 

The Athena SWAN charter recognises work undertaken by institutions to advance gender equality. The College of Engineering is an Athena SWAN bronze award holder and is committed to addressing unequal gender representation. Applications from women are particularly welcomed. As a positive action to address gender imbalance, female undergraduates considering a career in research are invited to join our two-day laboratory taster session and learn about a typical day in the life of a research engineer.


Sponsoring Company TATA Steel
Company Website Eligibility

To be eligible for WEFO funding, applicants should:
• Be a UK or EU citizen (eligible for home tuition fees at Swansea University) and have the right to work in Wales at the end of their studies.
• Be resident within West Wales and the Valleys at the time of enrolment and for the duration of the candidature.
• Must not be financially able to participate in study for a postgraduate research degree without the award of this funding.


Full fees at Home/EU rate for a period of one academic years.
Maintenance stipend at £12500 per annum for a period of one years.

Closing Date 20 September 2019

Start Date October 2019

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Informal enquiries about this studentship are welcome and may be directed by email to: M2A@swansea.ac.uk