Funding providers: EPSRC iCASE scholarship with the industrial support of UK Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL)
Subject areas: Computational mechanics; Engineering simulation
Project start date:
- 1 April 2024 (Enrolment open from mid–March)
- 1 July 2024 (Enrolment open from mid-June)
- 1 October 2024 (Enrolment open from mid-September)
Aligned programme of study: PhD in Civil Engineering
Mode of study: Full-time
Motivation: Scientists now predict that forty years of conventional hard robot technology will imminently be superseded by a new soft robotics era. Electro Active Polymers (EAPs) have been identified as ideal ultra-soft active materials for the fabrication of soft robot components due to their ability to undergo highly complex actuation (stretching, bending and twisting) when subjected to electric stimuli via compliant electrodes.
Applications: Due to their multifunctional nature, EAPs can act actuators (or artificial muscles) by responding to stimuli faster than natural muscle or conventional motors, and their light weight makes them suitable for space platforms, prostheses, exoskeletons, haptic feedback devices, deformable lenses and other system concepts, such as Stacked EAPs (via a sandwiched composite arrangement of EAPs and electrodes), shown to exhibit output forces capable of locomotion/propulsion to lift/manipulate objects. EAPs can also be exploited as flexible tactile sensors (for machine touch), wearable motion-capture sensors and energy harvesters.
Project aim. Building upon cutting-edge work by the group and with the support of EPSRC and the UK Defence, Science and Technology laboratory (DSTL), this PhD project sets out an ambitious research plan which will investigate, with the help of cutting-edge computational modelling and experimental validation, two fundamental aspects: (1) the time-varying response with associated viscoelastic effects in EAP soft robots, in order to predict deformations accurately, and (2) the reliable control in EAP soft robots when accounting for complex internal architecture.
Resources: The PhD student will take advantage of state-of-the-art soft polymer fabrication (3D/4D printing) and characterisation (i.e. electro-mechanical testing rigs) equipment and the latest computational simulation software tools developed by the group.
Location: Faculty of Science and Engineering, Bay Campus, Swansea University
Available resources/facilities: Access to relevant Computer Clusters and Material Laboratories.
Candidates must hold an Upper Second Class (2.1) honours degree in Engineering or similar relevant science discipline. If you are eligible to apply for the scholarship (i.e. a student who is eligible to pay the UK rate of tuition fees) but do not hold a UK degree, you can check our comparison entry requirements (see country specific qualifications). Please note that you may need to provide evidence of your English Language proficiency.
English Language: IELTS 6.5 Overall (with no individual component below 5.5) or Swansea University recognised equivalent. Full details of our English Language policy, including certificate time validity, can be found here.
This scholarship is open to candidates of any nationality.
UKRI iCASE funded studentships are available to home and international students. Up to 30% of our cohort can comprise international students, once the limit has been reached, we are unable to make offers to international students.
We are still accepting applications from international applicants.
International students will not be charged the fee difference between the UK and international rate. Applicants should satisfy the UKRI eligibility requirements.
Please note that the programme requires some applicants to hold ATAS clearance, further details on ATAS scheme eligibility are available on the UK Government website.
ATAS clearance IS NOT required to be held as part of the scholarship application process, successful award winners (as appropriate) are provided with details as to how to apply for ATAS clearance in tandem with scholarship course offer.
If you have any questions regarding your academic or fee eligibility based on the above, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the web-link to the scholarship(s) you are interested in.
This scholarship covers the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend at UKRI rate (currently £18,622 for 2023/24) for four years.
Additional research expenses will also be available.
How to Apply
To apply, please complete your application online with the following information:
- Course choice – please select Civil Engineering / PhD / Full-time / 3 Year / April (or July or October)In the event you have already applied for the above programme previously, the application system may issue a warning notice and prevent application, in this event, please email email@example.com where staff will be happy to assist you in submitting your application.
- Start year – please select 2024
- Funding (page 8) –
- ‘Are you funding your studies yourself?’ – please select No
- ‘Name of Individual or organisation providing funds for study’ – please enter ‘RS533 – Soft Robots‘
*It is the responsibility of the applicant to list the above information accurately when applying, please note that applications received without the above information listed will not be considered for the scholarship award.
One application is required per individual Swansea University led research scholarship award; applications cannot be considered listing multiple Swansea University led research scholarship awards.
We encourage you to complete the following to support our commitment to providing an environment free of discrimination and celebrating diversity at Swansea University:
- Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Monitoring Form (online form)
As part of your online application, you MUST upload the following documents (please do not send these via email):
- Degree certificates and transcripts (if you are currently studying for a degree, screenshots of your grades to date are sufficient)
- A cover letter including a ‘Supplementary Personal Statement’ to explain why the position particularly matches your skills and experience and how you choose to develop the project.
- Two references (academic or previous employer) on headed paper or using the Swansea University reference form. Please note that we are not able to accept references received citing private email accounts, e.g. Hotmail. Referees should cite their employment email address for verification of reference.
- Evidence of meeting English Language requirement (if applicable).
- Copy of UK resident visa (if applicable)
- Confirmation of EDI form submission (optional)
Informal enquiries are welcome, please contact Professor Antonio J. Gil (firstname.lastname@example.org).
*External Partner Application Data Sharing – Please note that as part of the scholarship application selection process, application data sharing may occur with external partners outside of the University, when joint/co- funding of a scholarship project is applicable.