Microstructure-flow interplay in 3D printing: linking structure, rheology and printability of bespoke and commercial formulations


A PhD studentship is open as part of a 4 year £1.6M UKRI Future Research Leaders Fellowship - Smart formulations for manufacturing of functional three-dimensional hierarchical structures (£1.6m), which Dr García-Tuñón holds. The successful candidate will join the team working at the interface between materials, chemistry, and engineering.

Within the wider umbrella of Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing techniques, direct ink writing (DIW) is an expanding multi-disciplinary research field with a growing number of applications, from energy devices to tissue engineering. DIW’s main strength is the versatility in materials formulation; high added value materials can be 3D printed through the careful design and characterisation of complex fluids that meet the demands of the printing process. Such complex fluids must be extremely shear-thinning soft solids, and able to flow through narrow nozzles; they also must recover their structure upon deposition and retain the predesigned 3D shape. Formulation design and rheology of these soft solids is critical, thus linking rheology and printability is a growing area of research amongst the DIW and rheology communities[1-3] and the core of our research in complex fluids.[4,5]

In this PhD project, the candidate will expand our fundamental understanding of complex fluids (such as yield stress and elastoviscoplastic fluids) for DIW and other applications using Large Amplitude Oscillatory (LAOS), Fourier Transform (FT) rheology,[4] the Sequence of Physical Processes (SPP) and recovery rheology (strain decomposition approaches). The candidate will investigate the behaviour of a wide range of complex fluids, from formulations for DIW made in our lab (such as ceramics for THz and energy applications) to commercially available materials for a variety of applications. The rheology studies will be complemented with structural techniques where appropriate, for example using rheo-microscopy, fluorescence microscopy and small angle x-ray scattering (SAXS). To complement the experimental aspects of this work, there is additional scope within the project to model complex fluids for DIW using computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

The candidate preferably has a chemical engineering background. They should have some proficiency in a programming language (e.g. Python or preferably MATLAB) and be able to use it for data processing and analysis. Some prior knowledge in rheology and/or complex fluids would be beneficial. Relevant training to be provided where required.

Applicant Eligibility

Candidates will have, or be due to obtain, a Master’s Degree or equivalent from a reputable University in an appropriate field of Engineering. Exceptional candidates with a First Class Bachelor’s Degree in an appropriate field will also be considered.

Application Process

Candidates wishing to apply should complete the University of Liverpool application form applying for a PhD in Materials Engineering and uploading: Degree Certificates & Transcripts, an up-to-date CV, a covering letter/personal statement and two academic references.


Candidates wishing to discuss the research project should contact the primary supervisor (egarciat@liverpool.ac.uk), those wishing to discuss the application process should discuss this with the School PGR Office (soepgr@liverpool.ac.uk).


Open to UK applicants

Funding information

Funded studentship

The studentship will be granted on current UKRI levels of support (home students only; annual stipend granted for 3.5 years for full-time study or 6 years for part-time study).



  1. Rau, D.A., et al., Progress in Materials Science, 2023: 101188
  2. Wei, P., et al., Journal of Applied Physics, 2023: 134(10)
  3. Liu, Y., et al.,  Journal of Rheology, 2023. 67(4): 791-791
  4. García-Tuñón, E., et al., Physics of Fluids, 2023: 35(1)
  5. Corker, A., et al.,  Soft Matter, 2019. 15(6): 1444-1456