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Marie Curie Project on Sports Head Injuries - Characterisation of Energy Absorbing Materials for Helmet Liner Applications

Characterisation of Energy Absorbing Materials for Helmet Liner Applications

Level: PhD, Funded €40-70k, 3 years

This PhD project is part of a Marie-Curie Innovation Training Network, HEADS (Head protection: a European training network for Advanced Designs in Safety). There are six partners, three industry (Charles Owen, UK; Lazer Sport, Belgium; and AGV, Italy) and three academic (University College Dublin, Ireland; KU Leuven, Belgium; KTH Stockholm, Sweden), who together, will host 13 PhDs. The advertised PhD position will be based at UCD, more specifically in the School of Mechanical & Materials Engineering, under the supervision of Prof. Michael Gilchrist.

As part of the Marie Curie training programme, the candidate will spend a secondment period of 3 months based on site at LazerSport, Antwerp, Belgium and a second 3 months based on site at AGV, Molvena, Italy.

About the Project

The scientific goal of HEADS is to improve the understanding of head impact injury and to design new helmet standard test methods that recognise the influence of rotational kinematics. This will lead to improved helmets and a reduction in the severity of injuries and the numbers of fatalities. This objective will be achieved through a combination of computational simulations of real-life accidents, experimental and computational investigation of injury thresholds, and design of new helmet certification tests.

Current safety helmets rely principally on energy absorbing liners that are based on low-density homogeneous foam materials to provide adequate head protection. The specific objective of this PhD project is to synthesise functionally graded foams (or other novel materials) to improve the performance of helmets. The candidate will develop and characterise such foams by varying the temperature / pressure gradient, rate of polymerisation and pore density. Experimental evaluation will then be carried out to assess their efficacy for use in new helmet designs.


The doctoral student is offered highly specialised doctoral training, making the candidate an expert in head impact biomechanics and helmet design technologies as well as being aware of commercialisable market opportunities. The doctoral candidate will work in world-class facilities with highly qualified experts, and will benefit from the training scheme developed based on the expertise of academic and industrial partners. This project will reach a new level of understanding of head injury and how head injury should be prevented, with directly applicable results to European industry. It will develop a well-networked group of young engineers and scientists into worldclass researchers and innovators with numerous career paths open to them, who will advance technology for the benefit of society and maintain Europe as a global leader in industrial development.


Candidate must hold a Bachelor’s or Master’s in Mechanical, Materials, Biomedical Engineering or equivalent. Strong knowledge in materials science and characterisation techniques is considered a plus. The candidate should be able to display a strong aptitude and enthusiasm for Engineering Research at undergraduate or postgraduate level.

The candidate cannot have resided in Ireland for more than 12 months in the last 3 years prior to the start of the position.

Closing date - 1st April 2015. Please go to for details on the application process.

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