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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.

Group Overview

montage of nCATS images

Head of Group: Professor Tomas Polcar

Deputy 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

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
Administrative Officer: Katherine Day
Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 2841
Administrative Officer: Fiona Haigh
Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 7082
Administrative Officer: Gwyneth Skiller
Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 5568



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 opportunities

Postgraduate Taught

Find out about our Engineering postgraduate courses offered 

Research Staff

List of all staff members in national Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS)
Staff MemberPrimary Position
Russ AlbertsVisiting Research Fellow
Miriam AndrewsPostgraduate research student
Jelili O BelloConsulting Engineer
Charles B. Burson-ThomasPostgraduate Researcher
Richard Cook New Frontiers Fellow
Ilaria CorniSenior Research Fellow
Spencer CourtSenior Enterprise Fellow: Corrosion Control
Simon DenningtonResearch Fellow
Kamran EsmaeiliPostgraduate research student
Liam R GoodesVisiting Research Fellow
Daniel GropperPostgraduate research student
Terry J HarveySenior Research Fellow
Stephen HerdPostgraduate research student
Walter Martin HolwegerRAEng Visiting Professor in Material Science, Tribology and Lubrication Chemistry
Eko IlmanPostgraduate research student
Timothy KampsDoctoral Prize Research Fellow
Pawee KucitaPostgraduate research student
Andreu LabordaPhD researcher of Engineering Materials group
Maria Fabiola Leyva-MendivilResearch Fellow
Georges LimbertAssociate Professor
Mengyan NieVisiting Research Fellow
Tomas PolcarProfessor of Materials Science and Tribology
Honor PowrieVisiting Professor
Monica RatoiLecturer in Lubrication Science
Alex D RichardsonPostgraduate research student
Maria SaltaVisiting Academic
Viktorija SmelovaPostgraduate research student
Keith StokesVisiting Professor
Martin StolzLecturer in Orthopaedic Tribology
Paul StoodleyProfessor of Microbial Tribology
Nicola SymondsDirector
John WalkerLecturer in Advanced Surface Engineering
Ling WangProfessor of Tribo-Sensing
Shuncai WangLecturer
Simon WatsonPostgraduate research student
Julian WhartonAssociate Professor
Luis V Wilches PeñaPostgraduate research student
Robert J K WoodProfessor of Surface Engineering and Tribology
Bahareh ZaghariResearch Staff
Jurgita ZekonyteVisiting Academic
Nan ZhouPostgraduate research student

    Related Projects

    List of related projects to national Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS)
    Related ProjectsStatus
    Tribological behaviour of nano-structured alloys processed by Severe Plastic DeformationActive
    A study on White Etching Crack (WEC) root causes and its relation to material microstructures and surface treatments.Active
    Advanced nanostructured coatings for aluminium alloysActive
    Better methods to measure wear of hip implantsActive
    Co-Ni-P Electrodeposits for Hard Chrome ReplacementActive
    Corrosion Control for Naval ShipsActive
    Delivery of fluoride and antimicrobial agents into dental plaque biofilmsActive
    Designing biomaterials for tissue engineering and tissue regenerationActive
    Designing sensors to detect corrosion in hidden placesActive
    Effects of vitamin E and natural lubricants on wear and oxidation of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE)Active
    Electron Beam Melting of Biomedical AlloysActive
    Green TribologyActive
    New generation of protective coatings alternative to hard chromeActive
    Health implications of metal ions and particulates released from hip implantsActive
    How to design better artificial knee jointsActive
    Impact and erosion resistant materialsActive
    Improved Testing Methodologies for Evaluating the Performance of Paint Systems and MaterialsActive
    Investigating rail axle bearing damageActive
    Lightweight ceramic nanotubes reinforced polymer composite coatings and nanofibres with improved impact resistance and responsive functionsActive
    Looking after our skinActive
    Luminescent Monitoring for Tribological CoatingsActive
    Metrology to assess the durability and function of engineered surfacesActive
    A study of Microstructure Alterations in White Structure Flaking Failures of Wind Turbine BearingsActive
    Modelling our tiny uninvited guestsActive
    Influence of ultimate strength on aged and corroded shipsActive
    Nanoadditives for lubrication of hydrogen technologyActive
    Nanoparticles characterization for nanotoxityActive
    Nanowear and Nanofretting of Biomedical MaterialsActive
    Polymer lubricationActive
    Prolonging the life of machine parts in nuclear applicationsActive
    Rare earth effect on tribological bronze coatingsActive
    Scuffing in piston assembly and liner of fired combustion enginesActive
    Simulating the friction encountered in oilfield operationsActive
    Simulation-based tailoring of nanoscale frictionActive
    Structured Surfaces for Tribological ApplicationsActive
    Structured Surfaces to Trap Bubbles and Reduce Drag and FrictionActive
    Suspension sprayed surface coatings for specialised applications Active
    The Adhesion Rail Riddle - Ensuring Trains Can BrakeActive
    The impact of Friction Modifiers on ZDDP engine oil tribofilmsActive
    The science and engineering of shape-shiftersActive
    Towards a mechanistic understanding of skin tears in the elderly populationActive
    Tribocorrosion of cemented tungsten carbide in oil and gas drilling environmentsActive
    Tribological behaviour of ultrafine-grained alloys formed by severe plastic deformationActive
    Understanding the physics of wet shavingActive
    Wear Assessment and Forensic Analysis of Failed Hip ReplacementsActive
    WS2 as lubricant nanoadditivesActive
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