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Behind-the-scenes @ Department of Materials

Monday 26th September 2011 @ 18:15


Professor Neil Alford, Head of the Department of Materials

An opportunity to visit a laboratory ranked amongst the top three in the world

The Department of Materials is the oldest and largest department of its kind in the UK. It has internationally-leading research programmes in the synthesis, processing, and modelling of a broad range of materials (metals, ceramics, semiconductors, glasses, ceramic-matrix composites, polymers and functional materials) directed to diverse applications such as nuclear, solid oxide fuel cells, aerospace, biomedical, automotive, communications and electronics.

The main application sectors addressed by Materials research are: energy conversion; environmental protection; transport; electronics/optoelectronics and healthcare. Across all themes the research is carried out with strong support from, and involvement of, industrial organisations. This close collaboration with industry, alongside first class facilities, ensures that the Department is at the forefront of Materials research.

Six core research themes in the Department of Materials are:

Advanced metals and alloys for use in energy generation, transport, and healthcare.

Biomaterials include the development of new scaffolds for regenerative medicine, biomaterials characterisation, stem cell therapy, cell-materials interface engineering, self-assembled biomimetic copolymers and nanomaterials for biosensing applications.

Ceramics and glasses include work on solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs), sensors, nuclear fuels, hosts for toxic and nuclear wastes, ultra high temperature composites, MAX phases, graphene, CNT-containing ceramics, bioglasses and bioceramics, and ceramics for body and vehicle armour.

Functional materials
are generally characterised as those materials which possess particular native properties and functions of their own. These can include, for example, ferroelectricity, piezoelectricity, magnetism, energy storage functions etc.

Nanotechnology concerned with design and construction of materials and devices with molecular and atomic precision, at dimensions ranging nanometres to micrometres. Its influence extends from fields as diverse as nano-electronics and bioengineering to molecular recognition and self-assembly of nanostructures and devices.

The Theory and Simulation of Materials
is playing an increasing role in science and engineering projects, and is the main occupation of about ten of the current academic staff in the materials department. Research topics range over length scales from organic molecules, through nano-structures to entire turbine blades, and embrace all classes of materials: ceramic, metallic, semiconducting, and organic, with a lot of attention to the interfaces between them.

Venue: Department of Materials, Royal School of Mines

Campus Map reference 12
on the Imperial College London Map