The Materials Engineering Research Group conducts research into the properties, behaviour and structure of materials to enhance their performance.
Materials are crucial to most aspects of our lives. Products such as computer chips, jet engines, surgical tools and solar cells are directly related to the engineering of materials. Materials engineering encompasses a range of materials: metals, ceramics, polymers (plastics), semiconductors, and composites. The ability to manipulate the properties, behaviour and structure of a material to enhance its performance is of interest to materials engineers. The School of Engineering has broad expertise in this area.
Research into materials such as metals and alloys has significant benefits to industry.
Metals are used widely in industry because they possess unique combinations of mechanical properties such as strength, ductility and toughness. The relationship between to material synthesis, forming properties and performance allow for development of innovative new materials that can be used for a wide range of applications. Research in the school also encompasses refractory and ternary carbide ceramics, large piezoelectric response materials and materials for the encapsulation of electronics for bio implantation.
Key areas of research
- The development of the theory an computer simulation of atomic diffusion and thermodynamics in solids particularly in metal and ceramics
- Synthesis of ternary carbide ceramics
- Failure mechanics
- Microstructural and crystal structure analysis of materials
- Corrosion analysis
- Failure prediction/prevention and lifetime enhancement
- Mechanical properties
- Neutron diffraction
- Residual stress measurement
'Solving real problems with innovative research'
Research of interest particularly to industry is the deterioration of structural materials under adverse conditions such as the corrosion of steel in seawater environments. Researchers in the School of Engineering are studying how much corrosion is likely to occur under given (uncertain) conditions after a period of time. The present project uses available data to construct a series of probabilistic models for the corrosion rate process under different conditions and to use this to predict the likelihood of structural failure. Both general corrosion and pitting corrosion are being considered in the modelling of seawater corrosion for offshore structures.
The spatial variability of material, dimensional and environmental variables is under analysis also. The proportion of a concrete deck that cracks at any point in time due to corrosion damage is one of the outcomes that provide information that can be used to predict expected maintenance costs and to optimise maintenance and repair strategies. The School of Engineering has numerous opportunities for industry in collaborative research projects and consulting.