Structural integrity and materials behaviour

This area encompasses all aspects of structural integrity and materials behaviour within engineering structures and underpins many disciplines; examples include civil engineering, mechanical engineering and aeronautics.

Studies of structural integrity (of engineering structures and components) include fundamental understanding of the mechanisms for crack growth, corrosion, fatigue, impact, buckling, deformation, friction and wear. This would include tribology which involves the interaction between moving surfaces. Techniques for non-destructive testing to facilitate understanding of the links between the processing and properties of materials in structures are also included alongside relevant aspects of acoustics and metrology.

Skills developed in a diverse range of disciplines benefit this area for example; materials science, physics and various branches of engineering. A key driver for the cohort-based approach to training would be to enable students to develop a breadth of theoretical and experimental skills within a cohort from a range of research backgrounds. The need for researchers to develop the skills required tackling research challenges involving integrated approaches with other disciplines was highlighted in the EPSRC Review of Mechanical Engineering 2011; it was also reported that a number of inputs to this review indicated these skills should be fostered at the PhD stage.

The area has a relevance to many sectors such as aerospace, construction, automotive and energy. It is anticipated that cross-sectoral engagement with industry partners will be a feature of proposals in this area.

EPSRC expects any proposal in this area to focus on specific aspects of the area, rather than covering the whole breadth.