Wettability and bonding of coating alloys on substrates

Key Information

The manufacturing of coated light weight alloys for transportation is critical for meeting the required standards for emission. Technical challenges involve coatability and adhesion on complex substrates with highly engineered micro-structures and requirements for the coated materials to survive processes such as hot-pressing and joining.  New coating alloys (Zn-Mg, Zn-Mg-Al etc) are being developed for galvanic protection of steel sheets for such automotive applications. The steel sheet substrates themselves are becoming more complex in micro-structure, ranging from simple IF steels to DP steels to TRIP and TWIP steels to future (Fe-Al-Mn-C-Ni) Low Density Steels for light weighting. As the steels become more complex in chemistry, so does the surface micro-structure in terms of selective oxides, phases, etc.  in order to engineer coating procedures, it would be beneficial to develop a laboratory scale test which allows for coating drops to be dropped onto pre-characterized steel substrates for controlled lengths of time under carefully controlled atmospheres and temperatures.  The purpose would be to (i) image the wetting behavior of the melt, (ii) allow it to solidify and react with the substrate under controlled conditions for post characterization through SEM-EDS and TEM.

Project Aims

  • Construct a laboratory setup of for the aforementioned purpose. It would include a high speed imaging system and a small scale sessile drop furnace ideally heated through IR with controlled atmosphere in terms of Ar/O2/H2
  • Carry out experiments for a simple model system, e.g. Zn on Fe or IF Steel under various oxidizing conditions.
  • Carry out experiments for a selected AHSS, wherein selective surface oxidation and other surface heterogeneities are expected. Coatings will be gradually increased in complexity from Zn, to Zn-Mg to Zn-Mg-Al.

The samples (substrate and coating) will be selected such that they are of relevance to TATA Steel UK’s product lines.

Suitable Candidate

This project would be suitable for someone with a degree in chemistry, physics, or materials engineering.

Sponsoring Company Tata Steel

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