The University of Southampton
Engineering and the Environment

Materials and Surface Engineering

New materials are the foundation of new technologies and hence at the root of major societal change and expanding technological opportunities. For this the reason the stages of civilization have been named, not after great philosophies, nor after great religions but after key materials - the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.






The principal goal of our materials and surface engineering research is to develop fundamental understanding of the physical processes and interactive mechanisms in materials that affect the performance of engineering systems, and to research and solve next-generation tribological design issues, thus enabling surface interactions to occur with minimal energy loss and impact on the environment. This understanding and knowledge is then transferred into engineering technologies through enhanced materials performance and improved designs. We will provide the next generation of underpinning technology in microsystems, biomedical engineering, engineering and engineering chemistry, and increase the understanding of tribological processes at all scales and apply this to improve surface life.

Materials and surface engineering research in the University of Southampton is carried out in a range of research groups and centres. The work covers many topics, from aerospace and automotive materials to energy materials, surface engineering to corrosion, electrochemical engineering to artificial hips, microsystems to 3D printing, micro dry powder dispensing to tribology, tomographic imaging to artificial intelligence.

Enterprise and Consultancy services are provided by dedicated staff who work in two specialist units: RIfI and nC2.

RIfI: bioengineering, cryogenics, refrigeration and engineering for low temperatures. Engineering Design and computational modeling. Mechanical properties of materials: bespoke fatigue, tensile, compression and bend testing.

nC2: Tribological testing such as erosion, corrosion, abrasion, friction and wear. Materials and coatings characterization: surface profilometery, SEM, nano- indentation and nano-scratch. Forensic materials engineering consultancy and product failure analysis.

Our world-class facilities provide the foundations for our research, education and enterprise activities and are key to the success of materials and surface  engineering at Southampton. There are over 50 specialist teaching and research laboratories and testing facilities dedicated to engineering materials and related engineering sciences across the University, and primarily in the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment. Working at the cutting edge, we continuously invest in our facilities to ensure that our researchers, staff and students have access to the equipment that will to allow them to develop and test their best ideas. 

Our key facilities include:

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