Funded PhD opportunities at CACM

Two funded PhD positions are available at the Centre for Advanced Composite Materials, which include:

  • All fees paid for three years
  • An annual tax-free stipend of $27,000 for three years
  • PReSS funding for research-related costs ($2,900 per annum)
  • Additional research related costs, including conference travel up to $6,000 per annum
  • A $5,000 bonus stipend if you're also been awarded a University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship

The opportunities are part of an MBIE grant to explore the implementation of Inductive Power Transfer technologies into roadways, with a long-term aim to eliminate active charging requirements for electric vehicles. They will involve working with Dr Tom Allen, Professor Simon Bickerton and Associate Professor Piaras Kelly in a multidisciplinary team across the University.

Recommended contacts include:

Applications for this position will be gathered throughout December 2017 and January 2018. Please submit your expressions of interest to Professor Simon Bickerton.

Development of robust IPT pavement systems for electric vehicles

Recognising the critical importance of wireless power to the uptake of electric vehicles, the New Zealand Government has provided substantial funding over a 5 year period for a multi-disciplinary project to develop robust wireless roadway-charging systems for Electric Vehicles (EVs), through the embedding of Inductive Power Transfer (IPT) technology underneath a road surface.

The team from the University of Auckland will be led from the power electronics group in engineering which is recognised as world leading in the development of resonant inductive power transfer systems for applications ranging from biomedical to industrial, consumer electronics and electric transportation. The CACM is a major partner in the project, working alongside power electronics, the transportation group and Economics to develop robust roadway IPT charging system for EVs. This innovative technology will enable vehicles to pick up charge from the roadway itself, when they are parked, stopped at the lights, or moving along a special charging lane.

Implementation of IPT charging pads into a roadway infrastructure relies upon the development of novel electronic, magnetic and mechanical designs, which are thermally and mechanically robust. This durability should not be at the expense of system performance while catering for operation under extreme conditions. Current charging pad designs utilise weak and brittle materials such as Ferrite and Litz Wire, while electronics employed in existing IPT systems are fragile. A key objective of this research is, therefore, to consider magnetic structures that improve the use of existing materials or utilise new materials, improved electronics and sound mechanical protection schemes to achieve a robust system that meets performance requirements, while minimising cost.


As part of this larger project, the Centre for Advance Composite Materials are presenting two fully funded PhD opportunities, including:

  • Development of embedding methodologies for protecting delicate IPT componetry. The inclusion of pads inside a roadway will require complex protection approaches. This project will look at how pads can be protected using advanced structural design approaches including; multi‐functional and functionally graded materials and stress cloaking methodologies. The work will utilise material properties and modelling approaches established in the wider team. Experimental testing at material, sub component and system level will be required to develop solutions and improve structural and thermal performance. Final characterisation of developed protection methodologies will be undertaken in conjunction with the University of Auckland’s Transportation Engineering Group in an in‐road scenario.. Potential focus areas include:
    • Multi-functional and functionally graded materials
    • Stress cloaking
    • Experimental testing of encapsulated IPT pads under static, dynamic and fatigue scenarios
  • Development of multi-physics finite-element models of IPT pads.This work will intertwine with work being undertaken by other researchers to look at how complete embedded IPT arrangements can be model to capture the mechanical, thermal, magnetic and electrical behaviour. The modelling will be developed alongside researchers from both the Power Electronics and Transportation Engineering Groups at the University of Auckland. Some work will be required to characterise the interface/boundary interactions experimentally in order to develop robust multi-body models, most notably for a thermal perspective. Experimental validation of the modelling will be required at a range of scales, under a range of loading scenarios. Potential focus areas include:
    • Multi-physics numerical modelling
    • Experimental characterisation of interfaces/boundaries and result development of numerical representation
    • Experimental validation under static, dynamic and fatigue scenarios