Study level

  • PhD
  • Master of Philosophy


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Professor Cheng Yan
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Engineering


A fundamental challenge to materials design for mechanical capability is to attain both strength and toughness at the same time in one body. Conventional metallic materials generally have relatively large plasticity due to having massive population of microstructural defects and effective plastic deformation mechanism, which have long been exploited for fabricating flaw tolerant (toughness) materials for structural applications. By the same token these

Structural defects render the materials relatively low strength, thus low load-bearing capability. In contrast, ceramics and intermetallic compounds are able to exhibit higher strengths owing to their stronger interatomic bonding but low tolerance to flaws and cracks due to the absence of effective plastic deformation mechanisms. This has been an intrinsic contradiction and dilemma in materials design for high toughness as well as high strength. However, balanced toughness and strength have been observed in biomaterials, whose hard and soft phases are arranged into unique and hierarchical architectures.

This project aims to develop new composites of mechanical properties that push the known boundaries of engineering materials. This project aims to design composites with unique microstructures which are mimicked from the observation of nature.

Research activities

In this project, it is necessary to understand the underpinning toughening mechanisms and develop reliable procedures that can mimic these unique structures at different length scales.

Material processing, mechanical and material characterization and/or numerical modelling are expected to understand the structure-property relationship. Recently, we have successfully developed new polymer and ceramic based composites with hierarchical architectures and balanced properties. The potential applications include implants and scaffolds for biomedical engineering and light weight structural materials.


New composites of balanced mechanical properties for applications in light weight engineering structures and biomedical implants and scaffolds.

Skills and experience

To be considered for this project, you'll need to have a background in one of the following disciplines:

  • mechanical engineering
  • materials science and engineering
  • chemistry (material chemistry)
  • physics (condensed matter).


You may be eligible to apply for a research scholarship.

Explore our research scholarships



Contact the supervisor for more information.