The physics of Arc Welding

Learning objectives

The PhD candidate will focus on a selected aspect of welding process physics and undertake a critical assessment of:

  • The current state-of-knowledge
  • Characterisation of the underlying physical principles
  • Exploration of literature sources
  • Conflicts in explanations and/or data found in the published literature

The primary aim of this graduate course is to provide insight into approaches available for critical assessment of existing literature and to apply the resulting methods to clear communication of scientific ideas. Knowledge of welding physics is an added bonus!


On the basis of analysis of the literature, PhD candidates will be required to write a review paper detailing the current state-of-the-art related to a chosen aspect of welding physics. The review should critically assess information sources, highlight errors and conflicts in the open literature, describe the underlying physical principles and indicate limitations in the current understanding. Possible aspects to consider include (but are not limited to):

  • The physical properties of fluids at elevated temperatures
  • Plasma structure
  • Multi-body diffusion in plasmas
  • Plasma sheath structures
  • Plasma temperature measurement
  • Electron emission mechanism(s)
  • Energy transport in gases
  • Energy transport in liquid metals
  • Liquid metal flow phenomena
  • Instability phenomena
  • Electrical discharge classification(s)
  • Welding processes

Required background

The PhD candidates should have a good understanding of basic principles in physics and be prepared to explore physics related problems in depth. A good grounding in mathematics is also essential, at least to the level of understanding meaning in partial differential equations. A good level of English is also required. Some knowledge of welding processes is certainly helpful but not essential.

Course material

  • Lancaster, J.F. (ed), The Physics of Welding, 2nd Ed. Pergamon Press, 1986.
  • All open source literature pertaining to the chosen aspect of welding physics.
  • International Institute of Welding (IIW) documentation.

ECTS credits:

Prof.Dr. Ian Richardson

Course dates:

The course will be offered twice per year.

Starts any time (by appointment) subsequent dates and times to be agreed).

Five weekly / bi-weekly discussion meetings of 2-3 hours.
Week 1: Describe goals and expectations and select of topic

  • Read appropriate section from Lancaster – perform initial literaturesearch

Week 2: Initial findings / discuss understanding

  • Extend literature search, assess validity and reliability of literature,highlight conflicts and inconsistencies

Week 3: Discuss progress + structure of review paper

  • Extend review based on discussion in week 3, address critical points inthe physical description of the selected welding aspect. Draft initial section(s) of the review paper

Week 4: Discuss initial draft of review paper / highlight important or critical aspects of the relevant physics

  • Complete the review paper

Week 5: Discuss final paper, what has been learned any outstanding issues related to understanding of the welding phenomena.

Group sizes:
The course will be offered for a minimum of 1 participant and a maximum of 5 participants per session. Access will be on a first come first served basis.

A written critical review paper on a selected topic.

Researchers wishing to participate should contact prof. Richardson by email (, indicating their primary study, supervisor/promoter and preferred start date.

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