Advanced materials laboratory

Advanced materials facilities

Supporting leading research in materials science and technology

Our laboratories facilitate research over a wide range of fields in materials characterisation and processing, nanotechnology, advanced manufacturing, solid mechanics and biotechnology.

Mechanical Testing Laboratory

The Mechanical Testing Laboratory is used for undergraduate teaching, student project work and postgraduate research as well as consulting and investigations for industry. It is dedicated to the mechanical testing of metals, polymers, composites and other materials, enabling us to test:

  • tensile/compressive modulus
  • strength and strain at failure
  • fracture toughness
  • three- and four-point flexure modulus and strength
  • adhesion and peel strength
  • hardness (Rockwell, Brinell, Vickers)
  • durometer hardness for polymers
  • impact resistance (Charpy and Izod)
  • friction and wear resistance testing for a number of environmental conditions.
  • Loading rates: 0.005 mm/min – 500 mm/min
  • Available load cells: 2.5N, 100N, 1kN, 10kN, 30kN
  • Axial and transverse clip-on extensometers, gauge lengths: 2.5mm, 12.5mm, 50mm
  • Crack opening displacement gauge, gauge length/travel: 10/4mm/mm
  • Mechanical and pneumatic wedge action grips, pneumatic and screw side action grips, self-tightening/thin film grips three- and four- point flexure fixtures and accessories
  • Compression platens and self-aligning/spherical seating
  • Environmental chambers, temperature range: -150 °C to 200 °C

These two testing machines are used to obtain stress/strain curves in both tension and compression, and also fatigue data when used with a cyclic (sine, triangle, square, hsine, htriangle and hsquare) or a ramp (single, dual and trapezoidal) waveform. The frequency of the waveform can be tuned between 1Hz and 10Hz. The machines can be operated under either force or displacement control. The force applied to the sample is measured with a load cell (50kN, 100kN, 250kN) on the stationary top crosshead. The bottom crosshead holds the hydraulic actuator which loads the sample. The specimen deformation is determined from either the moving grip position or by means of an extensometer (5mm, 12.5mm, 25mm, 50mm). Data may be collected and displayed during acquisition using the software of the computer. The machines are suitable to carry out:

  • fatigue life studies
  • crack propagation and fracture mechanics studies
  • tensile, compression and bend testing
  • component testing.
  • Pin-on-disk, ball-on-disk
  • Rotative, 0.01 to 2000rpm
  • Linear, maximum stroke 25mm, maximum frequency 40Hz
  • 800°C heating oven, liquid cup and liquid heating up to 350°C
  • Humidity control chamber
  • Vickers hardness HV30
  • Rockwell B-hardness HRB
  • Rockwell C-hardness HRC
  • Brinell hardness HB
  • Impact velocity: 1–6 m/s
  • Impact load capacity: 2kN–50kN
  • Three-point bend fixtures, hemispherical anvils
  • Low temperature environmental chamber: -150°C

Microscopy and Materials Characterisation Laboratory

The Microscopy and Materials Characterisation Laboratory at the Centre for Advanced Materials Technology (CAMT) is equipped with a wide range of equipment for studying a variety of material properties including determining sample structure, composition, thermal and mechanical properties.

Our laboratory instruments include:

  • Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR
  • Rigaku MSF-3M X-ray stress analyser
  • Rigaku Thermoflex TMA 8140
  • TA Instrument DMA and modulated DSC
  • Ultrasonic C-scanner
  • Sartorius electronic microbalance  with 0.01 mg readability
  • Buehler thin section system
  • Struers automatic polishing system
  • Leica optical microscopes.

Labortory equipment

Smart Materials and Structure Laboratory

Effort has been made to build ‘smart’ structures using active materials such as shape memory alloys/polymers, piezoelectric ceramics and polymers, and magnetostrictive composites. The research includes development and characterisation of novel active materials with improved performance; development of active structures with surface mounted/embedded sensors/actuators for vibration and damping control; and on-line health monitoring or non-destructive evaluation.

Our facilities and capabilities include:

  • tuned damped high-performance optical tables (Newport RS 4000)
  • Agilent electronics devices: E8404A C-size, 13-slot VXI mainframe, E1441A arbitrary waveform generator, E1437A VXI 20 MSa/s 23-bit digitizer with filters and memory, E3242A four-channel charge/voltage breakout box, 54621A two-channel 60 MHz oscilloscope, 34401A digital multimeter
  • Tektronix electronics devices: AFG3022B arbitrary/function generator, MSO/DPO 4000 digital phosphor oscilloscope
  • Yokogawa AQ6317 high-resolution optical spectrum analyzer and AQ4315A high-power ASE source
  • Piezo EPA-104 high-voltage, high-current and high-frequency amplifier.

Nano mechanical laboratory

Nano Mechanical Technology and Testing Laboratory

A state-of-the-art laboratory in the Centre for Advanced Materials Technology (CAMT) for probing the properties and surfaces of engineering materials at micro and nanoscale levels through mechanical contact.

This micro/nanoindenter is capable of measuring and applying loads and depths ranging from 0.1mN to 500mN and up to 20 microns respectively. Scratching, lateral force and friction measurements, wear testing, cyclic loading, high temperature nanoindentation (up to 800 °C) and impact testing are also possible.

This nanoindenter features in situation SPM and AFM imaging of indentations, for a load range of 10μN to 30mN and a maximum displacement of five microns. Scratching, lateral force and friction measurements, wear testing and dynamic mechanical measurements are also possible.

Advanced Composites and Manufacturing Laboratory

The Advanced Composites and Manufacturing Laboratory covers teaching, research and consulting in polymer composite manufacturing processes and techniques. Our facilities include:

  • Markforged 3D printer (print with carbon fibre, Kevlar and fiberglass)
  • Walter klement high pressure torsion system
  • Kato tech nanofiber electrospinning unit
  • LabFreez floor type freeze dryer
  • ZSK 30 twin-screw extruder with killion compact pelletizer
  • BOY injection moulding machine
  • Fritsch ball mill, Puhler three-roll mill
  • 1000 °C tube furnace
  • Industrial grade autoclave (2MPa, 425°C) and hot presses (50ton, 150ton) for composite material manufacture.