Cambridge Centre for Micromechanics
An inter-desciplinary centre for research on experimental and theoretical aspects of micromechanics
The Cambridge Centre for Micromechanics was opened in March 1996, and is based at
Cambridge University Engineering Department (CUED). It is an inter-disciplinary research centre between the
Departments of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP),
Engineering (Materials group), Materials Science, and Physics.
The Centre comprises a team of approximately 20 research staff, including
distinguished international visitors. Financial support comes from Cambridge University, EPSRC, European and
US funding agencies and from industrial sponsorship.
This science-based approach enables us to predict the behaviour of new materials
without the need for slow and routine experimentation. Optimum microstructures can be forecast rather than
found by trial and error.
The Centre brings together researchers interested in predicting the macroscopic mechanical behaviour of
materials from an understanding of microstructure. This involves the application of mechanics to identifiable
small-scale structures and the use of analytical and numerical methods to compute the macroscopic
The research topics are selected to be of fundamental long-term interest and of industrial relevance. Weekly workshops are used to identify relevant problems and to maintain a strong
impetus for collaborative research.
The specific objectives are:
- To work as an interdisciplinary group on specific problems in micromechanics in order to improve existing
materials and to develop new ones. Frequent consultation with industry ensures the relevance of the
- To stimulate closer interaction with British industry and the best international researchers. An annual
workshop, with participants invited from industry and from international universities, is used to review
progress and to agree upon priorities for research.
The Centre provides office and laboratory space, computer facilities and a seminar room as a focus for its
activities. Distinguished international visitors are invited for short or extended periods.
Representatives from the Cambridge Departments, from industry and from the EPSRC form a steering committee to
guide the work of the Centre. Research findings are disseminated through publications, seminars, an annual workshop for
industry software and short courses.
Current Research Themes
In each case, design guidelines for the optimisation of microstructure, process route and end application of
the material are developed. For example, one approach is to incorporate constitutive laws for deformation and
failure into a finite element package for subsequent widespread engineering use.
- Composite Design, including ceramic/metal laminates, the compressive failure of composites,
homogenisation theory to predict the localisation and failure of composites, and the deformation and fracture
- Processing of engineering materials, including powder compaction and welding.
- Metallic foams, encompassing their processing, microstructure, engineering properties and end
Close links exist with:
- Major US groups at Harvard, MIT, Brown, UCSB, UVA and NIST
- European research centres, including Intitut National Polytechnique de Grenoble, France; Delft Technical
University, The Netherlands; KTH, Sweden; DTU, Denmark.
Director: Prof NA Fleck
Co-Directors: Prof MF Ashby, Dr TW Clyne and Prof JR Willis
Participants: Prof LM Brown, Professor D Cebon, Dr W Clegg, Prof JW Stronge, Dr MPF Sutcliffe
Associates: Dr EJ Hinch, Prof DE Newland, Dr HR Shercliff, Dr P Withers
Steering Committee: Prof ACF Cocks, Prof PT Curtis, Dr R Ricks, Dr B Tomkins (EPSRC