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

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The nCATS Facility is a collection of equipment centred around the activity of the nCATS research group and as such consists of a range of tribological rigs; corrosion and wear-corrosion measurement equipment.  This is backed up by a range of characterisation equipment.  The nCATS facility website has a set of ‘themes’ that covers the various areas and types of measurements that performed.

montage of nCATS images

Head of Group: Professor Ling Wang

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.

Contact us

Mechanical Engineering Unit | Engineering and the Environment
Building 5 (Eustice) | University of Southampton
Highfield Campus | Southampton | SO17 1BJ
Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 2871

For any consultancy related enquiries of a tribological nature, please contact the dedicated consultancy team:


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:

For more information please click on the appropriate tab, if you are unsure please explore the themes tab.

If you require any information about the facility equipment, its capabilities and usage charges using please contact the facility manager:

Dr. Terry Harvey

Room 3003, Building 7

Highfield Campus

Telephone: 02380593761 (internally 23761)


Tribological measurements

nCATS facility has a wide variety of equipment that can tribological measurements for friction and wear assessment.  These range from nano-scale measurements on the Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) using Lateral Force Microscopy and nano-impact on the MicroMaterial Vantage systems to multi-station wear simulator.  Classic tribological measurements can be undertaken for pin on plate/disc to varying sliding/rolling contacts.

nCATS has shown innovation in the use of equipment, working with equipment manufacturers and independently, examples include the adaption of the reciprocating sliding tribometer to perform rolling for a ‘leaves on the line’ project; adaption of the twin disc machine, conventionally used for lubricated testing, to perform abrasive testing in rolling contacts and adaption of various tribometers to performed electrochemical measurements to assess corrosion elements in wear-corrosion testing.  Additionally, we have worked with local manufacturers in the development of new rigs.

  • Pin on Disc
  • Reciprocating (Plint TE77) 
  • Twin Roller (Plint TE74S)
  • µ-abrasion (Plint TE66)
  • Mini Traction Machine (MTM)
  • Multi-station wear rig
  • High-velocity Impact Rig
  • High velocity air-sand erosion
  • Slurry jet erosion
  • Nanoindenter (MicroMaterials NTX)
  • Atomic Force Microscopy (Agilent 5500)

Although not tribological equipment the use of equipment for pre-test sample preparation and post-test sample mounting is important to mention.  nCATS facility has a lapping machine specific for lapping and polishing multiple samples prior to any testing, this is important for some testing as sample need to be flat to ensure a conformal contact and correct contact pressures are applied even over the whole of the contacting surface and this process is usually referred as planarization.  The samples are then lapping and polished to the desired surface finish.

  • Lapping Machine
  • Polishing Machine (Saphir 520)


Corrosion and wear-corrosion Measurements

nCATS has an excellent range of equipment and facilities for assessing corrosion and wear-corrosion.  This includes access to seawater immersion site at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) to laboratory-based Cyclic Corrosion Test (CCT) Chamber.  Backing this up is an extensive range of electrochemical measuring equipment and polymer coating assessment tools.

Additional a number of tribological equipment can perform corrosion and wear-corrosion experiments.

  • Nanoindenter (MicroMaterials NTX)
  • Optical 3D Surface Characterisation (Alicona G4 InfiniteFocus)
  • Atomic Force Microscopy (Agilent 5500)
  • FEG SEM (Joel JSM6500)
  • TEM (Joel JEM3010)
  • Contact Profilometers


The nCATS equipment can be characterised into various ‘themes’ of what they can measure or can be associated with, so if you are looking for a particular area then follow the links below for a brief description and list of equipment within each theme.  The equipment links will then direct you to the appropriate section of equipment pages.

  • Abrasion testing
  • Anti-fouling
  • Biomechanical
  • Chemical analysis
  • Coating assessment
  • Corrosion
  • Crystallographic Assessment
  • Electrical property assessment
  • Electron Microscopy
  • Erosion testing
  • Friction measurements
  • Hardness
  • Impact
  • Lubricated tribological testing
  • Nanoindentation
  • Nano-mechanical testing
  • Nano-tribological testing
  • Polymers and paints
  • Rolling (and rolling-sliding) testing
  • Sliding wear testing
  • Surface topography/morphology
  • Tribological testing
  • Wear loss measurements
  • Young’s Modulus measurements

Postgraduate Taught

Find out about our Engineering postgraduate courses offered 

List of related projects to national Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS)
Related ProjectsStatus
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Co-Ni-P Electrodeposits for Hard Chrome ReplacementActive
WS2 as lubricant nanoadditivesActive
The impact of Friction Modifiers on ZDDP engine oil tribofilmsActive
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Improved Testing Methodologies for Evaluating the Performance of Paint Systems and MaterialsActive
Designing sensors to detect corrosion in hidden placesActive
Rare earth effect on tribological bronze coatingsActive
New generation of protective coatings alternative to hard chromeActive
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Health implications of metal ions and particulates released from hip implantsActive
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Effects of vitamin E and natural lubricants on wear and oxidation of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE)Active
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How to design better artificial knee jointsActive
Lightweight ceramic nanotubes reinforced polymer composite coatings and nanofibres with improved impact resistance and responsive functionsActive
Simulating the friction encountered in oilfield operationsActive
Nanowear and Nanofretting of Biomedical MaterialsActive
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Green TribologyActive
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3D imaging for Sensitivity toothpaste efficacy testingActive
Scuffing of heavy duty diesel enginesDormant
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