Materials discovery for neutron shielding – MRes Scholarship

Materials discovery for neutron shielding

sponsored by Tokamak Energy and KESS 2 at Bangor University

Project ID: BUK2211

Annual Stipend: £11,586

Application Deadline: 1st April 2020

Project Description:

Within a toroidal fusion reactor, the plasma is held in shape through magnetic confinement enabling fusion processes to take place. The current choice of confinement results from the use of low temperature superconductors. The fusion process produces fusion products and neutrons, which have immense kinetic energy (many MeV). The energy from the fusion reaction is transferred to the a coolant in order to generate electricity. However, the high energy (14MeV) neutrons interact with the structural and other materials and induce neutron damage.

Crucially, the low temperature superconducting materials are extremely sensitive to neutron damage – the atomic scale process where atoms are displaced from their normal crystalline site. The damage reduces the efficiency of the superconducting magnet with the potential to significantly reduce the lifetime of the magnet coils.

The current state-of-the-art neutron shields have not been proven for fusion energy systems and improvements are clearly required. The Nuclear Futures Institute has a range of expertise that can be applied to explore this issue within this Masters project. Dr. Simon Middleburgh and Dr. Lee Evitts  have expertise in computational materials design and radiation damage assessment in neutron absorbing materials (using a range of atomic and continuum scale simulations), while Dr. Iuliia Ipatova has expertise in the experimental manufacture and radiation damage experiments at institutions like the Dalton Cumbria facility – enabling the computational predictions to be tested. This project is a golden opportunity to combine these methods to innovate within a fast-moving field to design, examine and test a new material fit for purpose that will enable rapid decarbonisation of the world’s electricity supplies.

Applicants with backgrounds in engineering, physics, chemistry or related subjects are encouraged to apply.

 Project state date: Before 1st August 2020
Please apply by sending a CV and cover letter to Dr. Simon Middleburgh (
s.middleburgh@bangor.ac.uk) and cc to Penny Dowdney (p.j.dowdney@bangor.ac.uk).

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2) is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.

Due to ESF funding, eligibility restrictions apply to this scholarship. To be eligible, the successful candidate will need to be resident in the Convergence Area of Wales on University registration, and must have the right to work in the region on qualification.