Research Activities in Engineering Materials

The Materials Department participates in a diverse set of research activities that cover many different aspects of materials science and engineering - many of which involve aspects of tribology and surface technology. Below is a list of the main research themes in the department. To find out more about a specific area, click the relevant tab to the left to take you to a list of projects.

Surface Engineering and Tribology

The Surface Engineering research in the Department of Engineering Materials is directed primarily towards the evaluation and enhancement of the engineering properties of materials, which are often dominated by surface characteristics. The research therefore includes topics such as: the development of coating & treatment processes and high-resolution analysis & characterisation of surface layers.

Nanomaterials and Nanoengineering

The understanding of nanoscale materials and device performance is at the centre of our activities, bridging the fields of sub-nm microscopy, nanomanipulation, and atomistic modelling.


The metallurgy group has expertise in physical, mechanical and powder metallurgy, its research is supported by state-of-the-art experimental facilities and covers ferrous and non-ferrous alloys and composites and has close ties with a large number of companies from multinational to SME, all of whom stimulate and enhance the group´s research output. Our research is entirely industrially relevant, some on the short term while other aspects are higher risk and address longer term issues associated with, e.g., new disruptive processing technologies.

Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering

The Department of Engineering Materials plays a leading role in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering research within the University of Sheffield. A fuller description of biomaterials and tissue engineering research (which involves the departments of Engineering Materials, Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science and collaborators within the clinical departments of the Dental and Medical Schools) can be seen on the website for the University Centre for Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering.


Within the Department of Engineering Materials, magnetics research is dedicated to the growth, characterisation, modelling and application of magnetic materials. Subtle but crucial interactions that occur on the nanometre scale are under investigation by both experiment and micromagnetic modelling, and have potential exploitation in soft and hard magnetic materials, sensors and actuators and logic. There are also very strong links with industry worldwide.

Polymers and Composites

Research in Polymers and Composites is multidisciplinary involving links across faculties. Our research ranges from fundamental physics and chemistry through to the materials and mechanical engineering disciplines.


Ceramics have always been a major part of the Department of Engineering Material's research portfolio; and interest in the field remains as strong today as it has ever done. Here in Sheffield our research has broadened to cover functional ceramics as well as the more traditional areas of refractories and structural ceramics.

Glasses, Cermets and Waste Immobilisation

The department is historically strong in glasses and cements research with international reputations in both. More recently these strengths have been focussed and extended by the development of an Immobilisation Science Laboratory (ISL), established as a BNFL-University Research Alliance with £2M initial funding from BNFL. This activity has combined the abilities of geologists, ceramicists, glass technologists, crystallographers and modellers to work on the fundamental issues concerning immobilisation of radioactive (and other toxic) waste in glass, cement or ceramic matrices.

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