27 May 2022. Brought to you by Bethany Stansby.

Dan Scotson

What is your current job / programme of study?

PhD student in Materials Science

What A-Levels (or equivalent) did you do?

Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths A-Levels

Why did you choose a career in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)?

I enjoyed my A-Levels, but I didn’t have an obvious favourite. Materials Science appealed as a subject combining all three A-Levels, and that it was relevant to solving real-life engineering challenges.

After my thoroughly enjoyable undergraduate degree in

Materials Science, I just wanted to continue with research, so I chose to do a PhD.

What did you enjoy most about your MSE course?

My favourite part was my master’s year of my undergraduate degree. I enjoyed the practical element with exciting techniques such as X-ray Computed Tomography and Digital Image Correlation (DIC). I also had a great working relationship with my supervisor and research group, and I  liked the cooperative nature of working in a team to solve challenging problems.

What is your research about?

I investigate new ceramic coatings for future aerospace jet engines. A jet engine is a demanding environment for materials, and we must understand whether these coatings will survive.

What is the coolest thing you have done in your career so far?

While using liquid nitrogen is pretty cool (-196 degrees), using a focused ion beam is also fascinating. As a materials scientist, when needing techniques to investigate your material, such as transmission electron microscopy (TEM), it can be challenging to make a sample so thin that it is electron transparent. Using a focused ion beam (FIB) involves machining and manipulating a sample much smaller than a hair. The precision involved is just astonishing and rather nerve-racking when operating!

What do you see yourself doing in the future?

I would love to apply my materials science knowledge to applied problems and go into industry to improve materials performance and sustainability.

What is your favourite material (and why)?

My favourite material is an unusual one: ytterbium disilicate (Yb2Si2O7). My PhD study investigates this material and it’s amazing in terms of its high-temperature performance – you can heat it to 1600 degrees and it’s very stable. It’s a ceramic material and shows that ceramics are more exciting than just making toilets and kitchen crockery!

What advice would you give your 16 year old self?

Push yourself – don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone to try things and make mistakes.

Widen your learning – don’t let an exam specification limit you.

Embrace opportunities – say yes to events and opportunities that arise.