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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K005103/1
Title: Micro Materials NanoTest Vantage Testing Suite with NTX4Controller
Principal Investigator: Polcar, Professor T
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Faculty of Engineering & the Environment
Organisation: University of Southampton
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 30 November 2012 Ends: 29 November 2015 Value (£): 22,928
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Eng. Dynamics & Tribology Materials testing & eng.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine Manufacturing
Healthcare Energy
Transport Systems and Vehicles
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Apr 2012 EPSRC Equipment Business Case - April 2012 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The proposed bid will provide the UK with a world leading nanomechanical and nanotribological testing facility, with access available to all UK academic institutions and UK industry. The Micro Materials Vantage System represents a step-change in repositioning accuracy and testing speed than previous systems. It provides the ability to undertake 6 fundamentally different mechanical or tribological tests (Indentation, Scratch, Impact, Fatigue, Wear, Fretting), in a range of different environments, offering the ability to tailor tests to simulate service environments.

The ability to mechanically and tribologically test at the nano-scale is vitally important for a number of different scientific disciplines.

In Tribology, the behaviour of macro-scale contacts such as the bearing surface contact of a hip joint, is governed by the interfacial interactions at the nano-scale. Assessment of the nanomechanical and nanotribological behaviour of the surfaces, and the investigation of the surface layers or tribofilms formed during contact motion, is vital to the fundamental understanding of the contacts behaviour, and it provides crucial information for predictive modelling.

In manufacturing and materials science, new manufacturing and processing techniques such as laser processing and electrical discharge machining, produce microstructures, thin surface layers and textures on material surfaces which are of the order of microns in size. This means conventional hardness, wear and impact testing methods are simply not sufficient to assess them. This microstructure and texture formation can enhance and detract from the performance of the component in service; therefore the ability to test relevant properties at the appropriate scale is vital.

Coatings science is a field which spans a multitude of disciplines ranging from ship antifouling paint films through to hard coatings for the turbine blades of jet engines. While these coatings can vary in thickness, hard coatings for wear, impact and erosion resistance can be typically 1-50 microns thick with properties tailored to fit their purpose. The low thicknesses of the coatings mean their adhesion to the substrate and mechanical properties which are vital to the prediction of their performance can only be accessed through nano-scale testing.

Many natural materials such as bone and cartilage have complex hierarchical structures which extending down to the nano-scale. Changes occurring at the nano and micro-scale govern the macro-scale properties and performance and the ability to assess these levels provides valuable insights into the origins of conditions such as Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.soton.ac.uk