Materials Lab

(Room 2.03 - Second Floor)

Student looking through a microscope


Materials science studies the properties of solid materials and how these properties are determined by a material’s composition and structure, while Materials engineering shows us how to apply this knowledge so the right materials can be selected or designed for each application.

Selecting the right materials is key to make any engineered device, structure or product and we assist our world-leading staff and students in developing innovative materials that improve lives and protect the environment. Materials science is therefore important to a wide range of engineering activities such as electronics, aerospace, structures, nuclear power, or energy conversion.

In the Materials Laboratory, students will learn the origins of materials properties, how different materials work and how controlling the structure of a material from the atomic level up can alter its properties.

To assist with this, the laboratory contains state-of-the-art equipment for analysing and testing a variety of material characteristics. From physical characterization (Mechanical testing frames, Charpy, Hardness Indenters…) to elemental or molecular composition (EDX, FTIR…) and structure (XRD).

The facility also houses transmitted/reflected/polarized light microscopes that allow students to image both organic and inorganic samples, and three benchtop scanning electron microscopes (SEM), capable of a 60,000 times magnification, for the viewing of nano-scale structures.

Finally, equipment to prepare and modify materials before testing is also available, like furnaces and ovens for annealing and curing ceramics, metals and composites, or a fume cupboard for chemical processes.

Students will learn:
  • To determine mechanical properties experimentally of different materials (metals, polymers, composites, cement and others) by designing and performing experiments, measuring key parameters, performing calculations and generating important plots.
  • To gain hands-on experience on key materials characterisation techniques such as XRD, DSC, FTIR, UV-Vis and SEM/EDX.
  • To gain hands-on experience in manufacturing different materials such as composites, metal alloys and injection molding polymers.
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