The Composite Materials research degrees are part of a forward-thinking area of research in the school. We have close links with the Northwest Regional Development Agency and other leading companies such as, Quickstep, a manufacturer of autoclave processing equipment, as well as a large number of suppliers in the aircraft industry.
Active research Current research covers interfacial phenomena in composite materials, natural composites and rapid composites manufacture. The deformation mechanics of a range of high performance synthetic reinforcement fibres for composites are explored, as are those of natural and regenerated cellulose fibres. In the later case the main emphasis is on understanding the relationships between the microstructure and molecular structure of these materials and their mechanical properties. Molecular dynamics modelling together with experimental studies have been used to gain an improved insight into the behaviour of natural fibres.
Northwest Composites Centre We are actively involved with the Northwest Composites Centre, a collaboration which incorporates researchers from several schools in the university, together with colleagues from the University of Liverpool, University of Bolton and Lancaster University covering a wide range of polymer and metallic composites. The hub of this activity is based here at the School of Materials, established through a £2.1m grant from NWDA, and has facilities for rapid processing of composites through a variety of new technologies, including microwave and radio frequency heating as well as Quickstep. There are also extensive facilities for the characterisation of composites.
There are a large number of researchers working in the centre, nearly all on the rapid processing of composites with a view to improving the cycle time and properties of composites. These involve not just the use of rapid curing techniques, but also textile structures for next generation 3 D composites. The evaluation of these materials is also an important part of the projects and therefore supported by state-of-the-art equipment.