Engineering and the Environment

Research Group: national Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS)

Head of Group: Tomas Polcar

Deputy Head of Group: Dr. Ling Wang

The national Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS) started as a successful bid to the Science and Innovation Awards 2007 (£9.7M initial funding). nCATS mission is to bridge the gap between fundamental research and industrial needs and to solve emerging engineering issues related to friction, wear and lubrication. nCATS provides highly individualized multidisciplinary training reflecting actual market needs, which, together with scientific excellence, will generate an open-mind generation of engineers able to harvest multidisciplinary knowledge and successfully face technological challenges of 21st century.

Currently Active: Yes

Group Overview

Tribology is the essential science of all interacting surfaces in relative motion. It is immensely important to the successful operation of engineered machines and natural mechanisms of all scales, and demands multifunctional surfaces. It is core to future transport and energy-efficient machines, the control of emissions and low-maintenance renewable energy systems, and to biotechnology.

nCATS is a multidisciplinary tribology centre. We aspire to research and solve next-generation tribological design issues and enable surface interactions to occur with minimal energy loss and impact on the environment. We link world-class research groups in key disciplines at the University of Southampton to develop enhanced capabilities in advanced computational and experimental tribology. We have also established strategic research partnerships with top groups worldwide.

We provide the next generation of underpinning technology in mechanical engineering, microsystems, and biomedical engineering by developing strategic research partnerships with industry. We increase the understanding of tribological processes at all scales and apply this to improve surface life.

Our research includes developing sensors and novel probes for tribological processes, the tribology of renewable energy systems, manipulating complex microbial communities at interfaces linked to tribological issues of fouling, friction and corrosion, and the use of advanced techniques to understand biotribological performance at the interface of artificial material and live tissue. We develop novel self-repairing, adaptive, regenerative multifunctional surfaces for smart applications.


nCATS – multiscale tribology

nCATS – multiscale tribology

Contact us

  • Engineering Sciences Unit

    Engineering and the Environment
    University of Southampton
    Highfield Campus
    Southampton SO17 1BJ

    Senior Administrative Officer: Sue Berger
    Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 2871



Members of staff associated with this group:

Research projects

Research projects associated with this group:

Designing biomaterials for tissue engineering and tissue regeneration

Looking after our skin

Nanoadditives for lubrication of hydrogen technology

WS2 as lubricant nanoadditives

A study on White Etching Crack (WEC) root causes and its relation to material microstructures and surface treatments.

Investigating rail axle bearing damage

The science and engineering of shape-shifters

Delivery of fluoride and antimicrobial agents into dental plaque biofilms

Metrology to assess the durability and function of engineered surfaces

Structured Surfaces for Tribological Applications

Wear Assessment and Forensic Analysis of Failed Hip Replacements

Luminescent Monitoring for Tribological Coatings

Simulation-based tailoring of nanoscale friction

Lightweight ceramic nanotubes reinforced polymer composite coatings and nanofibres with improved impact resistance and responsive functions

Prolonging the life of machine parts in nuclear applications

Improved Testing Methodologies for Evaluating the Performance of Paint Systems and Materials

Particle analysis

The Adhesion Rail Riddle - Ensuring Trains Can Brake

Advanced nanostructured coatings for aluminium alloys

Scuffing in piston assembly and liner of fired combustion engines

Tribological behaviour of ultrafine-grained alloys formed by severe plastic deformation

Designing sensors to detect corrosion in hidden places

Modelling our tiny uninvited guests

Structured Surfaces to Trap Bubbles and Reduce Drag and Friction

Green Tribology

Rare earth effect on tribological bronze coatings

Effects of vitamin E and natural lubricants on wear and oxidation of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE)

New generation of protective coatings alternative to hard chrome

Tribocorrosion of cemented tungsten carbide in oil and gas drilling environments

Electron Beam Melting of Biomedical Alloys

Understanding the physics of wet shaving

Influence of ultimate strength on aged and corroded ships

Health implications of metal ions and particulates released from hip implants

How to design better artificial knee joints

Simulating the friction encountered in oilfield operations

Nanowear and Nanofretting of Biomedical Materials

Corrosion Control for Naval Ships

Co-Ni-P Electrodeposits for Hard Chrome Replacement

Better methods to measure wear of hip implants

Upgrade and validate simulator

Polymer lubrication

Tribological behaviour of nano-structured alloys processed by Severe Plastic Deformation

Suspension sprayed surface coatings for specialised applications

Impact and erosion resistant materials

Nanoparticles characterization for nanotoxity

The impact of Friction Modifiers on ZDDP engine oil tribofilms

A study of Microstructure Alterations in White Structure Flaking Failures of Wind Turbine Bearings


nCATS has access to the surface engineering and tribology facilities for measurement and analysis at both the University of Southampton and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), in the areas of:

Postgraduate opportunities

Postgraduate Taught

MSc Surface Engineering and Coatings (Advanced Mechanical Engineering Science)