Welcome to the home pages of the Experimental Micromechanical Characterisation Research Group, including Dr Ben Britton and team

11/08/2017 Group Photo

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 development and 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?


18/06/2018 - Dr Britton's introduction to electron backscatter diffraction talk at the UK-Israel Workshop Summer School 2018 on Nano Scale Crystallography for Bio and Materials Research is available here.

14/06/2018 - New paper on imaging in the scanning electron microscope
Britton, T.B., Goran, D., Tong, V. "Space rocks and optimising scanning electron channelling contrast" Materials Characterization (2018)

08/04/2018 - AstroEBSD is launching. This is a new indexing code for EBSD analysis, based upon the Hough transform. We hope it will support community efforts to increase the rigour in EBSD analysis. You can find out a bit more about this project here.

27/03/2018 - the group now has a Code of Conduct for membership of the group.

13/03/2018 - Congratulations to Dr Giorgio Sernicola for successfully defending his thesis today!

11/01/2018 - Congratulations to Giorgio Sernicola for submitting his thesis today!

28/09/2017 - Welcome to Xinping who joins the group as a PhD candidate. Xinping will be studying strain partitioning in dual phase titanium alloys.

25/07/2017 - New paper on Ti brazing
Jing, Y., Su, D., Yue, X., Britton, T.B. and Jiang, J. "The development of high strength brazing technique for Ti-6Al-4V using TiZrCuNi amorphous filler" Materials Characterisation (2017)

24/07/2017 - New cracking work on measuring fracture energy using stable crack growth with in situ measurements
Sernicola, G., Giovannini, T., Patel, P., Kermode, J.R., Balint, D.S., Britton, T.B., and Giuliani, F. "In situ stable crack growth at the micron scale" Nature Communications (2017)

21/07/2017 - New paper combining TEM, micro-mechanical deformation and alloy development.
Knowles, A.J., Jun, T.S., Bhowmik, A., Jones, N.G., Britton, T.B., Giuliani, F., Stone, H.J., and Dye, D. "A new beta titanium alloy system reinforced with superlattice intermetallic precipitates" Scripta Mat (2017)

06/07/2017 - Ben's HR-EBSD tutorial talk is now available as a PDF over on the Techniques page

08/05/2017 - The Engineering Alloys Theme (our parent research grouping at Imperial) won an Imperial College President's Award for best Research Team. Ben also won an President's award as an Outstanding Early Career Researcher.

04/05/2017 - New paper on studying fine scale microstructure in Ti alloys - studied with transmission Kikuchi diffraction (TKD)
Tong, V., Joseph, S., Ackerman, A., Dye, D. and Britton, T.B. "Using transmission Kikuchi diffraction to characterise α variants in an α+β titanium alloy"

03/05/2017 - Congratulations to Vivian on graduating today! Her PhD focused on studying zirconium for nuclear applications. Vivian also won a prize for the best PhD in Materials Characterisation in the Department - very well done!

29/03/2017 - Alex talks about his journey into a PhD and shows off some of his neat card tricks - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mi6GHZjqU0k

For older news - view the archive

Why Micromechanical Characterisation?

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.
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