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Materials Engineering

Researchers are active in a number of areas of applied research relating to materials and sustainability, and robotics and materials testing

Materials and Sustainability research is wide ranging, covering novel materials and structures for photovoltaic (PV) devices, growth and processing of electronic and functional thin films, processing and applications of functional oxides, condensed matter theory, surface engineering including the development of new materials and coating processes, structural applications of high strength and high performance materials, sustainable design and life cycle assessment. 

Robotics and Materials Testing research targets intelligent, automated and robotic systems for the non-destructive testing and inspection of large critical infrastructure, often located in remote and hazardous environments. Wall climbing, swimming, pipe crawling and mobile robots capable of deploying a range of NDT techniques have been developed. The group has sophisticated facilities and has attracted significant levels of funding from sources such as EPSRC, EU, TSB and industry.

Key achievements

  • £2.50M in research grants/contracts and coordination of 2 major EU grants; 174 publications
  • Innovative precursor materials and solvent-free thermal-spray process as alternative to painting
  • New nanostructuring processes to increase light absorption and efficiency in thin film solar cells
  • World's first electrocaloric analysis instrument developed with the multinational NETZSCH, as well as new significant theories of the electrocaloric effect, for solid state cooling research
  • Pioneered a new generation of high performance fibres for concrete applications and design software for the multinational Propex
  • Three innovation awards for Robotic NDT and recognition of research by the Royal Society


  • Materials & Sustainability Thin film and nanostructured materials for photovoltaics (PV); electroceramic materials processing and applications; condensed matter theory, surface engineering and structural materials.
  • Robotics & Materials Testing Intelligent robotic systems for the non-destructive testing of safety critical infrastructure and materials in hazardous environments (Robotic NDT).