Research Summary

My research interests cover a range of academic and applied activities. Work on the fundamental understanding of microstructural processes in structural materials includes modelling of:

  • Non-equilibrium molecular dynamics
  • Rapid solidification in metallic alloys
  • Formation of electrodeposited, hard alloy coatings
  • Evolution of porous structures in nuclear materials
  • Diffusive crack growth along grain boundaries
  • Normal and abnormal grain growth
  • Diffusion creep in geological materials

I have collaborated with many industrial partners, including Alstom Power, National Physics Laboratory, QinetiQ, Doosan Babcock, E.On and the National Tribology Centre. This industrially-led work includes:

  • Modelling phase transformations in nickel-based superalloys
  • Development of constitutive models for the creep of nickel-based superalloys
  • Modelling stress relaxation in springs
  • Analysis of the fatigue tolerance of rolling bearings

I am also interested in the mechanics and morphology of nanostructures, especially under the influence of elastic strain. This work is in the context of the development of new multiscale modelling techniques, including both continuum and atomistic representations of a material. Areas of application include:

  • Self-organisation of quantum dots, particularly in the SiGe and InGaAs systems
  • Spontaneous formation of nanorings and quantum dot molecules
  • Stability of nanowires
  • Formation of nanostructured thin films
  • Evolution of stresses in condensing thin metal films
  • Grain boundary relaxation in thin metal films


A novel pseudo-atomistic simulation of the growth, relaxation and capping of alloyed heteroepitaxial quantum dots showing compositional profiles at three different times. One atomic species (blue) is deposited upon another (red). They have the same crystallographic structure but different lattice spacing. The lattice mismatch strain is relaxed by intermixing (green) and morphological change (via surface diffusion). Initially pyramidal quantum dots are formed. These are then capped by further deposition of the substrate material. The top of the embedded pyramids dissolves into the matrix to form truncated pyramids. Further deposition of another layer of capped quantum dots results in a layered structure of vertically-aligned dots. The formation of this metastable structure is due to a complex interaction between the kinetics and energetics of the system.

Post-doctoral research assistants

  • Dr. Fei Long – Growth modes and relaxation mechanisms in epitaxial thin films, EPSRC project
  • Dr. Paul Spencer, A mixed atomistic and continuum model for crossing multiple length and time scales, EPSRC project
  • Dr. Qiang Du, Improved Modelling of Material Properties for Higher Efficiency Power Plant, TSB grant
  • Dr. Tianxiang Liu, , Improved Modelling of Material Properties for Higher Efficiency Power Plant, TSB grant

PhD Supervision

  • Dr Mark Cornforth, Variational models for the kinetics of phase transformations
  • Dr Tong Wang, Multiscale modelling of heteroepitaxial thin films
  • Dr Mark Fuller, Smooth particle hydrodynamics (SPH) for solid mechanics
  • Dr Kenny Jolley, Multiscale methods for nanoengineering
  • Dr Caroline Meaking, Biomechanical analysis of hip failure
  • Dr Mazin Al-Isawi, Impact of composite laminates
  • Dr Dhuha Albusalih, Modelling the mechanics of nanostructures
  • Dr Marc-Antony Coster, Stress relaxation in nickel-based superalloy springs
  • Dr Christopher Campbell, Modelling of length-scale plasticity
  • Ishan Fernando, Modelling of hot cracking in niobium silicide alloys (ongoing)
  • Bogdan Nenchev, Simulation of mechanical deformation during dendritic solidification (ongoing)
  • Wayne Smith, Accelerated test methods for high-temperature design (ongoing)
  • Craig Melton, Intelligent self-monitoring coating systems (ongoing)
  • James Campbell, Investigating small airway closure in the human lung using a multi-scale approach (ongoing)

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