Professor Fabrice Pierron

Photographic portrait of Professor Fabrice Pierron

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Division: Faculty of Engineering and the Environment
Organisation: University of Southampton
Tags: Fellowship: Established Career Fellowship, Researcher, University of Southampton
Related theme: Engineering


I received my PhD from Lyon University, France, in 1994. I held an Assistant Professor post at the Ecole des Mines de Saint-Etienne from 1994 to 1999, and was a Professor at Arts et Métiers ParisTech (Châlons-en-Champagne, France) before moving to Southampton in May 2012 as Professor of solid mechanics. I have published more than 90 international peer-reviewed journal articles and co-authored the first book ever on the Virtual Fields Method, released in March 2012. I am currently Editor-in-Chief of the journal Strain (Wiley).

My Fellowship

My EPSRC Established Career Fellowship is about the development of the next generation of mechanical tests to identify material behaviour at high rates of deformation. I use ultra-high speed imaging to obtain maps of deformations which are used to obtain more robust models for materials to feed into numerical simulation for design.

In many areas of engineering, materials suffer deformation at high rates. This is the case when structures undergo impact, crash, and blast. Therefore, it is essential for design engineers to have reliable mechanical models to predict the behaviour of the materials in such applications. This is enhanced by the spectacular progress in numerical simulation which now enables to perform detailed computations of very complex situations. However, robust experimental identification of refined high strain rate deformation models is lagging behind and hinders the delivery of the full potential of numerical simulations for the benefit of society: safer infrastructures (buildings, bridges, dams), safer means of transportation (crashworthiness of vehicles).

The objective of the present project is to lay the foundations of a new era in dynamic testing of materials based on the technological breakthrough brought by the recent development of ultra-high speed cameras which gives access to maps of material deformation at very high rates. Coupled to efficient mathematical inversion tools, this will lift the major limitations of current high strain rate tests and provide better models with more robustly identified parameters. The project aims at providing a platform to explore and develop this methodology for many different types of situations in terms of materials, loading configuration and strain rate range. It has the potential to revolutionize high strain rate testing of materials and hence enhance our knowledge of material behaviour. This will in turn benefit many sectors of engineering and society in the long term.