Department of Mechanical Engineering

Materials and Structures Centre

Autoclave creating carbon fibre panels

The Materials and Structures (MAST) Centre is as a multidisciplinary centre that simultaneously develops and designs innovative materials with unique properties, whilst targeting the technological, structural and manufacturing applications in which they will be employed, thereby revolutionising performance and production process.

Application of mathematical modelling and experimental techniques across the length scale feedback to the fundamental discovery and design of novel materials and structures, inverting the conventional design process.

The Centre has excellent modern equipment for measurements of structural, chemical, physical, and mechanical properties and processing of a wide range of materials.

Contact us

Materials and Structures Research Centre

Co-directors: Prof Richard Butler
Tel: +44 (0) 1225 383213

Prof Chris Bowen
Tel: +44 (0) 1225 383660

SMS Consultancy

Manager: Nick Gathercole
Tel. +44 (0)1225 383235
Fax: +44 (0)1225 386098

Research focus

Our current research is focusing on these areas:

  • Composite materials and structures
  • Smart materials and structures
  • Non-destructive evaluation
  • Materials characterisation and evaluation
  • Structural and functional ceramics

SMS Consultancy

Based on our expertise and well-funded laboratories we are able to run a comprehensive consultancy service. For all enquiries related to materials, please email Nick Gathercole at

Examples of our recent activities with industry include:

  • Mechanical testing (static, fatigue and creep)
  • Corrosion studies
  • Chemical analysis of materials
  • Micro-structural analysis of materials
  • Optical and electron microscopy
  • Accident and failure investigations
  • Expert witness service.

To find out more about consultancy opportunities at the University, visit our consultancy for businesses page.

Further details


  • Fatigue, carbon fibre composites
  • Impact damage, effects of fatigue and static loading
  • Damage tolerance
  • Buckling & optimisation of laminated structures
  • Composite/metal hybrid materials
  • Biomedical materials

Non-destructive testing and evaluation

  • Ultrasonics
  • Non-linear ultrasonics
  • Thermography
  • Thermal wave
  • Acoustic emission
  • Eddy current
  • Life cycle design, fatigue performance
  • Advanced structural connection techniques


  • Finite element, finite difference
  • Manufacturing processes for composites
  • Buckling and strength of composites
  • Dielectric response, complex circuits
  • Piezoelectric, 3D composites


  • Optical microscopy, quantitative
  • CT-scanning
  • Pre-cured composites
  • Mechanical testing, fatigue
  • Doppler laser vibrometry
  • Surface profilometry
  • Dilatometry
  • X-ray diffraction, electron diffraction
  • Impedance spectroscopy
  • Polymers, DMTA
  • Scanning and transmission electron microscopy


  • Piezoelectrics, piezoelectric composites
  • Solid electrolytes / ionic conductors
  • Conductive ceramics
  • Nanostructured ceramics

Mechanical testing and processing

  • 3 x 1.5m Airbus autoclave (100psi; 250°C)
  • Denison-Mayes DH 2004C 200kN Servo-hydraulic universal testing machine
  • Instron 1195 - 100kN testing machine
  • Instron 5585H - 250kN testing machine
  • Instron 3369 - 50kN testing machine
  • (Two) Instron 1332 - 100kN servo-hydraulic fatigue testing
  • Instron 3111 environmental cabinet
  • Leco M400 microhardness tester
  • Vickers and Avery Rockwell hardness testers
  • Doppler Laser Vibrometry
  • Limess VIC3D High Speed Digital Image Correlation system
  • Optical microscopy
  • Autoclave – 3 x 1.5m, 100psi, 250 deg C
  • Comprehensive collection of laboratory microscopes – high, low resolution
  • Comprehensive range of tube and chamber furnaces, 1100-1700° C
  • polarising, binocular
  • Leica M205C
  • Leica DMILM
  • Kemet precision lapping and polishing machine
  • Suit of metallographic cutting, lapping and polishing machines
  • Structural modelling software: ABAQUS / VICONOPT / ANSYS

Find out more about electron microscopy at our Microscopy and Analysis Suite.

Materials characterisation

  • Triton 2000 DMA
  • Solatron S1 1260 impedance analyser
  • Solatron 1296 dielectric interface
  • Netzsc DIL 402C dilatometer
  • Non-contact surface profilimeter Proscan 2000

Non-destructive testing and evaluation

  • Thermal Wave imaging thermoscope
  • ISI-SYS shearography system
  • Ultrasonic Sciences C-scan system (2.5 x 1.2m scan area)
  • CT Scanner – Nikon XT H 225kV
  • Acoustography
  • Four infrared cameras
  • Laservall 20 watt fibred diode laser
  • Cheltanham Easyheat induction heating system
  • 1 kW 40 kHz ultrasonic horn