Professor Daniele Dini

DPhil, FIMechE, FHEA

daniele dini

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Job title: Professor of Tribology
Division: Mechanical Engineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Tags: Fellowship: Established Career Fellowship, Imperial College London
Related theme: Engineering


Daniele received his DPhil from the University of Oxford in 2004 and he joined Imperial College London in 2006, where he is now Head of the Tribology Group. His research centres on the application of advanced modelling strategies to materials, biomechanics and structural integrity, with a particular focus on tribology.

My Fellowship

Almost all machines, as well as human beings, contain surfaces that rub against one another. Tribology is concerned with understanding and ameliorating the processes that take place in these rubbing contacts, in particular frictional dissipation, lubrication and surface damage. Although these tribological processes are observed at the macro-scale, they all originate and are ultimately controlled at the atomic scale, by the forces and interactions between individual atoms and molecules.

This Fellowship is a unique opportunity for me to develop molecular-based models to predict, from atomic-scale simulation, macro-scaletribological phenomena such as friction and surface damage. For example, I will simulate the atomic rearrangements that result from rubbing and how these lead to material damage and adsorption of molecules from lubricants onto surfaces and the consequent reduction of friction.

I will use these models in two ways; first to understand in depth how atomic scale processes control macro-scale, tribologicalones; this understanding is needed to improve existing performance. Then I will combine these models and our new understanding to produce a modelling platform for general use to predict tribological performance. The proposed approach will lead to new design strategies based on efficient multi-scale methodologies that can be adapted to different engineering problems.

Modelling is unproductive and indeed can be dangerous without validation, so the models I develop will be validated by advanced techniques thanks to the strong experimental expertise of my research team and collaborators at the molecular, micro- and macro-scale as well as material micro-structural characterisation at different length scales.

Motivation to Apply

With this project I intend to focus my modelling research on multi-physics, (fluid/solid and chemo-mechanical interactions, and multi-scale simulations to transform the field of tribological modelling and its industrial application). Individual projects or isolated efforts cannot produce such a step-change, which makes this Fellowship an ideal vehicle for my research.

In the last ten years, I have developed a strategy that brings together many strands of research and I have assembled a group of talented researchers and world-class collaborators. This EPSRC Fellowship will ensure the underpinning resources needed to pursue my research and career vision.

Career benefits of Fellowship

The benefits of the fellowship are multiple: in addition to providing resources to concentrate on transformative research that delivers outstanding science and real innovation, it enables a greater focus on building strong network of collaborators, increasing international visibility and dissemination activities. It also helps consolidating and building links to industrial partners to deliver innovative solutions to long-standing engineering challenges. One of my aims is to use this opportunity to increase technology transfer activities, and looking ahead to future challenges.

Advice for future applicants

Focus on key issues in the area of research you find exciting. Think big and build a consistent case that shows the innovative aspects and the excellence of the work you propose. Remember this is not a standard grant and it is built around you and your team. Link your research to key outputs, which are relevant to economy and society and ask others (both colleagues and industrial partners) for help in preparing a strong proposal. Use the EPSRC documentation as a guide and never forget that the quality of the proposal is the key ingredient, but many other aspects are needed to build a compelling case.