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Cambridge Centre for Micromechanics
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Cambridge Centre for Micromechanics
An inter-desciplinary centre for research on experimental and theoretical aspects of micromechanics

Introduction

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.

The Strategy

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 response.
  kinkband formed in a carbon fibre reinforced epoxy composite during axial compression

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 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 work.
  • 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

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

  • 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 of asphalt.
  • Processing of engineering materials, including powder compaction and welding.
  • Metallic foams, encompassing their processing, microstructure, engineering properties and end use.
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.

International Links

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.

Organisation

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 representative)
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