Welcome to the home pages of the Experimental Micromechanical Characterisation Research Group, including Dr Ben Britton and team.
We are a group of researchers specialising in materials science and engineering, primarily of metallic alloys and ceramic / metallic composites.
Our core focus is on understanding the properties and performance of materials in difficult and interesting environments, through use of tools that characterise the performance of microstructural components within materials.
Our work is primarily experimental, using novel techniques such as high angular resolution electron backscatter diffraction (HR-EBSD) and high spatial resolution digital image correlation (HR-DIC) to track strain and stress at the local scale. We use these to understand microstructural mechanisms and inform models to predict component performance. We also have a number of computational group members, using dislocation dynamics and crystal plasticity methods to understanding materials deformation. Finally, we develop new image processing algorithms to improve our characterisation tools.
We are based within the Engineering Alloys Group in the Department of Materials, at Imperial College London. The Department hosts a large range of sophisticated experimental kit that we use regularly. We also develop and maintain a number of software analysis tools that aid our experimental understanding of real alloy performance.
If you are interested in joining the team - why not check out the available opportunities?
29/09/2016 - Vivian successfully defended her thesis today! Subject to a few minor corrections, she'll soon be Dr Tong - well done! Many thanks to Prof John Wheeler (Liverpool) and Dr Luc Vanderperre (Imperial) for examining her.
23/09/2016 - Ben attended the Recent Appointees in Materials Science conference - story here.
19/09/2016 - Siyang, Qinmeng and Monojit finish their MSc projects in the group. Well done!
07/08/2016 - Public Engagement, Media and Advocacy section updated! (Featuring recent work on Brexit & Nuclear Power in particular.)
07/08/2016 - Two new papers, both open access:
Zhen's excellent and hard work on modelling out the intrinsic (rather than extrinsic) rate sensitivity of titanium micropillars -
Zhang, Z., Jun, T-S., Britton, T.B., and Dunne, F.P.E. Intrinsic anisotropy of strain rate sensitivity in single crystal alpha titanium Acta Materilia (2016)
Jun's lovely work on testing fatigue cracking parameters, as proposed by Prof Dunne and colleagues, using combined experiments (HR-DIC and HR-EBSD) and simulations:
Jiang, J., Yang, J., Zhang, T., Wang, Y., Dunne, F.P.E., and Britton, T.B. Microstructurally sensitive crack nucleation around inclusions in powder metallurgy nickel based superalloys Acta Materialia (2016)
27/07/2016 - Ben becomes a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.
24/07/2016 - EBSD Tutorial talk from Microscopy and Microanalysis 2016 'Focussed Instrument Group' on Electron Diffraction uploaded at the EBSD techniques page.
11/07/2016 - Ben becomes a Chartered Engineer.
01/07/2016 - Jim Hickey heads off to Tsingua University for the Global Fellows Programme on Climate Change and the Environment and will collaborate with Prof Andrew Godfrey on EBSD of steels during his visit.
27/06/2016 - Ben win's the RAEng Engineers Trust Young Engineer of the Year award - for more information see the Imperial College release.
20/06/2016 - New Poster - at the IUTAM symposium discussing our work on Deformation Compatibility - based upon our Proc Roy Soc paper using HR-EBSD and HR-DIC
09/06/2016 - New Publication - Wallis, D., Hansen, L.N., Britton, T.B. and Wilkinson, A.J. Geometrically necessary dislocation densities in olivine obtained using high-angular resolution electron backscatter diffraction Ultramicroscopy (2016)
07/06/2016 - Spiral links for many of the publications listed on this site are now available - this provides easy open access to much of our work
For older news - view the archive
Micromechanics is the understanding of mechanics in heterogeneous structures, for us this is within context of microstructure. This is fundamental for creative innovation and design of new materials, as well as management of existing alloys in complex environments. Issues within these environments can span a range of time and lengthscales. Therefore the only solution to generate new insight is through fundamental mechanistic understanding of the influence of microstructure on the performance of these alloys.
In our group we gain this insight typically with a range of experiments, complemented with high fidelity models and simulations, to get to the heart of understanding failure and damage mechanisms in many extreme loading conditions.
This approach enables clear understanding of the behaviour of microstructural components within real materials. With this in hand, we can open up informative and useful discussions with our range of industrial and scientific partners on how to best manufacture or operate components in 'high-risk high-value' applications ranging from jet engines for aerospace, nuclear fuel cladding, and pipe and drill components for oil & gas.
EBSD characterisation of large scale mechanically deformed samples, where we are interested in the heterogeneous nature of slip, twinning and damage to enhance life prediction of engineering components.
Twinning in Zr - from Vivian Tong's work
Twins are highlighted as red lenticular objects using EBSD analysis. The location and frequency of the formation of these twins is controlled by microstructure and mechanical behaviour.
Micro-mechanical testing using in-situ deformation in the SEM. The activation of individual slip systems can be targeted using careful experimental design. Here we are exploring the load relaxation of a fixed displacement load-hold in order to understand dwell fatigue.
Micro-pillar compression of Ti624X - from Terry Jun's work
The deformation of small micropillars (1-5 microns wide) combined with in-situ testing is enable us to probe the local strain rate sensitivity of engineering alloys used in industrial components.