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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/C520629/1
Title: The Characterisation of Advanced Materials at the Nano-scale: Interactions, Deformations and Failure Mechanisms
Principal Investigator: Spikes, Professor HA
Other Investigators:
Busso, Professor E Hansen, Dr U Charalambides, Professor M
O'Dowd, Professor NP Luckham, Professor PF Higgins, Dame JS
Shaffer, Professor M Kinloch, Professor A Blackman, Dr BRK
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr A Cornelius
Project Partners:
Department: Dept of Mechanical Engineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 14 March 2005 Ends: 13 March 2008 Value (£): 124,591
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Complex fluids & soft solids Materials Characterisation
Materials Processing Tissue Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
As advanced materials increasingly employ micro and nano-phase constituents to enhanced their properties and extend their application, there is an ever growing need to be able to characterise these materials on the relevant size scale. For example, polymer resins are routinely toughened with micro and more recently nanophase particles and fibres to create very high performance structural adhesives and composite matrices for a very wide range of new applications including many in the aerospace, automotive and biomedical areas. Also, developing completely new polymers by blending together existing ones is another area where important advances are being made, but in which there is a pressing need to understand why some polymers will mix and some will not. Progress in this area will rely on the ability to monitor how the polymer macromolecules crystallize during cooling from the blended melt. In addition, to be able to understand, and hence reduce the damage caused to surfaces by the process of friction, it is necessary to understand the underlying molecular and atomic processes that give rise to surface wear. Indeed, an entire class of speciality materials now exist to give surface protection or other surface functionality. Realising the full potential of these lubricants and films, and developing new ones, requires the ability to characterise and probe their surfaces with very high resolution equipment.Many of the most exciting and promising advances in the above areas of our proposed research are being made using an atomic force microscope. Our research has the following aims: (1) To investigate the detailed nano-structure of friction modifying additive films and the nature of boundary films formed by bio-molecules on various different surfaces. (2) To develop a simple technique for tracking the early stages of phase separation in polymer blends so that we may be able to predict which polymers will mix to form a blend. (3) In the area of structural adhesives, to investigate the important effects of various environmental factors on the resulting mechanical properties. (4) In the area of nano-composites, the characterise the structure of nano-particle modified polymers, investigate the effect of particle dispersion and orientation and to model the reinforcement and toughening. Also, to determine nano-particle and nanotube dimensions and aggregate sizes after the application of novel dispersion techniques. (5) In the area of biomedical materials, to develop and then model novel polymer scaffold material constructs which are designed to enhance in-vivo tissue ingrowth and thus be suitable materials for large bone replacements. (6) In our research on soft solids, to characterise the structure of various foods (e.g. cheese and dough) and model the relationship with their rheological and fracture properties. (7) In the area of nanocrystalline materials and thin films:To study the relation between the fundamental structure of nanocrystalline materials and their mechanical properties, underpinning the development of a multi-scale modelling framework, linking the atomistic with the continuum. (8) Finally, in the area of particle interactions, to measure the adhesion between various materials (including living cells).
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