Study with ICAM

PhD opportunities are available a on a wide-range of projects, all with real-world applications.

For the latest available courses take a look at the pages of our university partners:


Current Vacancies

PhD Studentship: Corrosion Scaling (University of Cambridge)

Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD studentship to start in October 2017 or January 2018 to work with Dr Stuart Clarke in the Department of Chemistry on a project sponsored by BP that will develop a number of new experimental methods to characterise the formation of corrosion products on engineering materials. It is planned that this will build on methods already used in the Clarke group, such as specular neutron reflection, at the world's leading neutron facilities, with laboratory-based spectroscopy and other approaches which exploit new synchrotron scattering developments. We aim to characterise the spatial distribution of the chemistry and the corrosion products at new levels of spatial resolution.

Further information about research in the Clarke group is available at

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain) the equivalent of a UK first class or upper second class honours degree (and preferably a Masters degree) in chemistry or materials science or other relevant discipline. The studentship provides a maintenance grant and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. Non-EU nationals can be considered only if they already have the means to fund the overseas fees differential.
Applications should include a cover letter, CV, detailed academic transcripts and the contact details for at least two academic referees, and should be sent by email to Dr Stuart Clarke (, to whom any informal enquiries can be addressed.

Please quote reference MA12137 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

Closing date: 14th June 2017

PhD Studentship: Sweet and Sour Oilfield Corrosion Scales (The University of Manchester)

This project is available via the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Materials for Demanding Environments (CDT in M4DE) and will commence October 2017.

Corrosion is an omnipresent concern in oil and gas production. Effective control is essential for maintaining equipment performance and avoiding disasters. This project targets understanding of corrosion scales, which can be key to structural integrity, employing state-of-the-art instrumentation to explore their structure/chemistry at the nanoscale.

CO2/H2S are primary reagents for internal corrosion of oilfield equipment. Both dissolve in H2O forming acidic solutions, leading to potentially highly corrosive environments (CO2: sweet; H2S: sour). Solid corrosion products may also appear as a consequence of sweet/sour corrosion, with their formation dependent upon a range of parameters, e.g. pH and temperature. If adherent to the carbon steel substrate, such solids can significantly reduce the rate of corrosion, and so are integral to material sustainability. Significant effort has been applied to characterise such established scales, which has resulted in key insights into their nature. Currently, however, there are few nanoscale details about the nucleation and early stage growth of these scales, including the surface structure/chemistry prior to scale initiation. For instance, it is generally presumed that CO2-induced scales are formed solely through precipitation subsequent to solution supersaturation, but direct evidence remains elusive. It may be that initial nucleation/growth also involves some other interfacial reaction(s), e.g. through the chemistry of adsorbed CO2-H2O complexes, which have been predicted to be energetically favourable on Fe surfaces.

Project Outline

Cutting edge characterisation tools will be employed to elucidate interface chemistry/structure, both prior to sweet/sour scale formation and during their onset. More specifically, structures formed on model single crystal substrates (e.g. Fe(110)) will be imaged using scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) and low energy electron diffraction (LEED) following immersion in CO2/H2S/H2O at (or near) atmospheric pressure in a wet cell. Selected structures will also be determined quantitatively using synchrotron-based approaches, e.g. surface x-ray diffraction (SXRD). In addition, the chemistry of these interfaces will be probed with near ambient pressure x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (NAP-XPS). The latter will be exploited to probe the surface interactions of CO2/H2S/H2O up to the mbar regime, allowing one to follow surface chemistry (e.g. sulfidation) as well as to observe weakly bound intermediate species.

The outcome of the research will be a molecular level understanding of the scale structure and chemical processes that is essential to improving scale protection through early intervention, such as the optimisation of scale nuclei to promote directed growth or the control of scale processes using novel inhibitors.

Funding Notes

This project is funded by EPSRC and BP. The successful candidate will have their fees paid in full and will receive an enhanced maintenance stipend of £17,000 per annum.

Students with a first class/2.1 degree (or equivalent) in Engineering, Materials Science, Metallurgy, Physics, Chemistry or another aligned science / engineering subject are encouraged to apply. Applications will be reviewed as they are received until a candidate is selected; therefore candidates are encouraged to apply early.

Funding is available for UK or EU candidates only.

Centres for Doctoral Training

ICAM also has involvement with a number of Centres for Doctoral Training. Students taking part in these programmes undertake a taught year before progressing to an industry-set PhD research project.

More information on these courses can be found below: