Sensing the microstructure of steel at 700C

Key Information

For the new generation of light-weight cars, novel high-strength steels are in development. The mass production of these advanced high-strength steels requires accurate sensing and control during the cooling trajectory of the material. Sensing of the microstructure in the temperature range between 650 – 750 °C is particularly relevant to follow the phase transformations occurring in these steel types. The figure at the right shows a microstructure with 4 different co-existing phases in an advanced high-strength steel.

Tata Steel Research and Development and the University of Manchester have developed a sensing technology suitable for monitoring the microstructure during production. The next step is to test the technology with a full scale prototype in a large furnace facility at the Swansea Technology Centre of Tata Steel, followed by installation of the prototype in the continuous annealing line of Tata Steel in Port Talbot. The student is supposed to run the lab and plant trials and interpret the data.

Project Aims

The aim of the project is to characterise the performance of the full scale prototype sensor in the temperature range between 650 – 750 °C and evaluate its capability for the detection of phase transformations, first in the laboratory, and later in the production plant. Different steel grades will be tested to sense the evolution of their microstructure during heating and cooling paths.

Part of the study is also to carry out an analysis (model and measurement) of thermal influences, like thermal gradients and thermal drift, on the electric and magnetic signals, and on the mechanical housing structure.

The initial series of tests will be carried out in the laboratory of Swansea Technology Centre of Tata Steel, and next, the installation and operation of the sensor will take place at the Tata Steel works in Port Talbot.


1)      Acquaintance with the sensor technology, data acquisition system and experimental facilities used for the tests.

2)      Dedicated sensor lab testing (in high temperature furnace)

3)      High temperature measurements on advanced high-strength strip steel samples

4)      Data analysis and decoupling of signal dependencies (thickness, lift-off, grade dependency, …)

5)      Plant installation, trials and in-situ calibration

6)      Analysis of inline data, and relationships with process and product data

7)      Reporting and Dissemination 

Suitable candidate 

A background in physics, electrical engineering, process engineering or metallurgy with an affinity with instrumentation and industrially focused research.

Sponsoring Company Tata Steel – Swansea Research Centre

Candidates should hold an Engineering or Physical Sciences degree with a minimum classification level of 2:1 or equivalent relevant experience. 

 Our funders require applicants to also meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You must be a UK or EU citizen (i.e. eligible for ‘home’ tuition fees at the University) and have the right to work in Wales at the end of your studies.
  • You must be resident in West Wales and the Valleys at the point of enrolment and throughout the duration of your studies.
  • You must not be financially able to participate without the award of grant funding.

Further information regarding eligibility criteria can be found at: http://www.materials-academy.co.uk/eligibility

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.


The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a tax free stipend of £20,000 p.a.


Closing Date 28 February 2018

Start Date October 2018

Apply Now

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