Engineering the next generation synthetic turf sports surfaces

Loughborough University invites interested students to join their Sport Surfaces Research Group to provide engineering solutions to current challenges within the sports surfaces domain.

The successful student will join the world-leading Sport Surfaces Research Group at Loughborough University led by Professor Paul Fleming and Dr Steph Forrester. The group has strong external links with major organisations such as Tencate, Labosport, FIFA and FIH. The primary focus is to provide engineering solutions to current challenges within the sports surfaces domain. Many PhD past students have progressed into successful careers within the industry.

The use of synthetic turf pitches is widespread and growing at both the recreational and elite levels in sports such as football, hockey and rugby. A combination of performance and environmental challenges are driving ongoing innovations in constituent materials and system designs. Recent developments have included specialist hybrid turfs (natural-synthetic mix), synthetic turfs with novel non-polymeric infills and synthetic turfs with no infill. The environmentally driven transition away from polymeric infills has raised many stimulating and topical research questions around pitch play performance, design, testing, maintenance and durability as well as footwear design.

The aim of this PhD is to build new knowledge and understanding on the performance of these novel synthetic turf systems. This is a critical step in the development of sustainable solutions that meet the requirements of pitch users, and in optimising test methods that evaluate pitch play performance. It is expected to include laboratory-based mechanical characterisation and field-based performance assessment to inform theoretical consideration of how these surfaces achieve their play performance characteristics. The project will benefit from existing industry support within the group, including access to state-of-the-art surfaces and training/employment/networking opportunities.

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