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The Division of Mechanics, Materials and Design within the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge aims to extend fundamental and applied research in mechanics, materials, and design; and exploit cross-disciplinary partnerships across the University. The research into Materials is concerned with composites, superconductors, lattice structures and metallic foams, as well as material processing and joining.
Within Materials, the interdisciplinary research centre, the Cambridge Centre for Micromechanics, was opened in March 1996. The Centre comprises a team of approximately 20 research staff, including distinguished international visitors from major US groups at Harvard, MIT, Brown, UCSB, UVA and NIST, and from European research centres including Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble, France; Technical University Eindhoven, The Netherlands; KTH, Sweden; DTU, Denmark. Financial support comes from Cambridge University, EPSRC, European and US funding agencies and from industrial sponsorship.
Research topics are selected to be of fundamental long-term interest and of industrial relevance. The Objectives are to work as an interdisciplinary group on specific problems in micromechanics in order to improve existing materials and to develop new ones. Frequent consultation with industry ensures the relevance of the work, and to stimulate closer interaction with industry and the best international researchers. Current research themes include: mechanics of lattice materials and foam (including nanofoams), including modelling of the foaming process; cell mechanics; size effects in plasticity; three Dimensional (3D) composites; mechanics of adhesive joints; fracture in an extreme environment; distributed cracking of ceramics. In each case, design guidelines for the optimisation of microstructure, process route and end application of the material are developed. For example, one approach is to incorporate constitutive laws for deformation and failure into a finite element package for subsequent widespread engineering use.
The academic team is led by Professor Michael Sutcliffe, whose research interests include: composite materials (e.g. impact, design, wind turbine applications); composites use in various applications, e.g. cars, wind turbines; tribology (e.g. composites forming, tyre wear); and mechanical behaviour of materials.