Solid Mechanics

The solid mechanics research area covers a very broad range of activity across the discipline. A unifying theme is the application of core science to solve real industrial problems.


Work in the Leonardo Centre for Tribology focuses on building experimental tools for industrial friction, wear, and lubrication problems with applications across industrial sectors. This theme also incorporates our research for the railway sector within the MERail group, which studies maintenance, durability, and lifecycle issues for railway infrastructure, particularly wheels and railway track.

The experimental mechanics group are developing a wide range of experimental and practical tools for assessing failures and damage in solid structures. Research combines extensive experimental work with detailed numerical modelling to produce solutions that can be applied in industrial circumstances.

The sports engineering group work closely with manufacturers and governing bodies on the design and development of sports equipment and surfaces, while our wind turbine transmissions group is developing new tools and techniques for improving reliability and understanding maintenance requirements for the offshore wind industry.

Research centres

The Leonardo Centre for Tribology

The Leonardo Centre specialises in research and development in tribology and surface engineering. The key aim of the centre is to carry out world-leading research in tribology to support industry and society.

Visit the Leonardo Centre website

Rail Innovation and Technology Centre (RITC)

The Rail Innovation and Technology Centre is a collaboration between Network Rail and the University of Sheffield, which aims to produce innovative research in railway engineering.

Visit the Rail Innovation and Technology Centre

Our experts


The work is based around several well-equipped laboratories.

The Lea Lab has a range of standard and highly customised material specimen and structural loading systems.

The Human Interactions Lab has a range of equipment for studying the interaction of humans with surfaces, devices, and products.

The Leonardo Lab has many items of standard and bespoke test apparatus for studying friction, lubrication, and wear and the Swift Lab has a strong wall and floor for loading large-scale test pieces and three sophisticated multi-purpose test cells.

Flagship institutes

The University’s four flagship institutes bring together our key strengths to tackle global issues, turning interdisciplinary and translational research into real-world solutions.