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Engineering Materials and Mechanics Group (EM²G)

Our aim is to develop fundamental understanding of the science behind interactive mechanisms in materials engineering, as well as nonlinear mechanics of solids and structures.

The Engineering Materials and Mechanics Group provides multi-disciplinary approaches to explore excellent scientific understandings and innovate future engineering technologies. We work to promote advanced science and engineering applications through collaboration with other Northumbria research groups and our extensive international research network with external academic and industrial collaborators.

Our core practices include:

  • Advanced Materials (e.g., Multi-Functional, Nanocomposites, Lightweight Materials, etc)
  • Applied Mechanics
  • Functional (nano-)materials enabled intelligent system
  • Thin film materials and coatings
  • Micro-engineering and micro-electronics
  • Structure/Device/System development for future engineering in extreme environment
  • Design and optimisation of composite structures
  • Energy harvesters
  • Nonlinear dynamics and vibration of structures
  • Smart materials for wearable sensing and actuation application

Our extensive experiences in a wide range of scientific topics are supported by world-leading research infrastructure in materials, surfaces and micro-devices. We recently refurbished our rapid prototyping suite and bespoke laboratory research space, which now boasts specialist kit as follows:

  • A wet processing lab fully equipped with fume cupboards
  • Advanced optical characterisation platform consisting of Nikon multifunctional up-right microscopy
  • Ti-E epi-fluorescence microscope equipped with ultra-precision motorised stage and high-speed camera;
  • Bruker contour interferometer
  • High-spec microfluidic research platform (Fluigent MFCS-EZ) integrated with a probe station and a customised Nikon up-right microscopy State-of-the-art field-emission Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
  • Dynamic Mechanical Analyser (DMA)
  • Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)
  • X-ray diffraction (XRD)
  • Nanoindenter
  • Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (SIMS)
  • Electrospinning equipment and the refurbishment of a
  • For theoretical/analytical work, we have a complete set of engineering software (Ansys, Abaqus, Matlab, Solidworks, Autocad, Catia, etc).

The group has established strong collaborations with world-leading researchers and industrial partners – e.g. Reece (materials), Palintest (manufacturing), INEX (engineering), Jinboma (manufacturing, China), Sabic (KSA) and has been actively engaged in research council funded activities, i.e. Special Interest Groups (SIGs) in the EPSRC UK Fluid network (e.g. UKFN, EP/N032861/1). We also collaborate in the Graphene Flagship scheme with Nanesa Srl (Materials, Italy), CRF FIAT (Manufacturing), NNT(Materials, Japan) for both academic and industrial engagements in a broad range of engagements in automotive, aerospace, energy, bio-engineering and healthcare.

Our academics are involved in international and national research committees and organizations, holding fellowships with Institute of Materials, Mining and Mineralogy, Royal Society of Chemistry, Institution of Mechanical Engineers as well as editorial board positions on leading international journals.  

Please see our research portal for more details.

Group leadership and contacts

Contacts: Martin Birkett and Hamed Farokhi

This research group forms part of the Department of Mechanical and Construction Engineering.

Research relationships

This group is a part of the University’s multi-disciplinary research into the theme of Future Engineering.

Research from this group will be submitted to REF 2021 under UoA 12: Engineering.

To view research papers emanating from this group, please click here to view Northumbria Research Link, our open access repository of research output from Northumbria University.

PhD opportunities

PhD Students, Postdocs, and Research Fellows are welcome to join the group. If you are interested in joining us, please contact Dr Martin Birkett to discuss available opportunities.

Please click on the links below to view current self-funded PhD opportunities:


Award for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership Project (worth £290,000 (FEC), Award Number KTP 12382)

Award for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership Project (worth £230,000 (FEC), Award Number KTP 1025643)

Current projects

European Flag with circle of 12 gold stars on a blue backgroundMarie Curie actions logo

HEPULSE: High Performance Silver Doped Carbon Coatings for Biomedical Applications

Northumbria University is leading a European funded project on high-performance silver doped carbon coatings for biomedical applications (HEPULSE). Diamond-like carbon (DLC) films present exceptional mechanical properties that make them ideal as protective coatings. Due to their high hardness, low friction, and biocompatibility with living cells, silver-doped DLC coatings are highly valued in the biomedical field. Increased amounts of silver in the coating have shown to improve its biocompatibility, but excessive amounts could reduce its mechanical strength and durability and prove to be toxic to humans.

Caption: (A) Pristine DLC without Ag and (B) proposed Ag-DLC coatings with controlled Ag doping to improve mechanical performance.

In this project, we are aiming to develop a novel DLC coating with precise and localised doping of Ag nanoparticles using the sputtering method. The Ag nanoparticles will be created in-situ by rapid plasma quenching with He pulses and simultaneously embedded in the DLC matrix in a single-step process. The unique features are precise amounts and specific size of Ag nanoparticles which will be embedded at controlled depths in the DLC matrix as illustrated in the figure. The coatings will be tested for biological functioning, that is, biocompatibility and antimicrobial tests and mechanical performance, which includes hardness, toughness, and tribology. The new Ag-DLC coatings are expected to present a simultaneous improvement in biological and mechanical performance due to their unique tailor-made architecture.

Project information

Coordinating Organisation: University of Northumbria at Newcastle, United Kingdom
Project Beneficiary: Dr Martin Birkett
Marie Curie Research Fellow: Dr Abdul Wasy Zia
People involved: Prof. Dr Mihalis I. Panagiotidis
Fund Programme: H2020-EU.1.3.2. - Nurturing excellence by means of cross-border and cross-sector mobility
Funding Call: H2020-MSCA-IF-2019
Grant agreement ID: 885534
Funding Budget: € 224 933,76
Project Length: 15 FEB 2021 to 14 FEB 2023
See HePulse on CORDIS website

Contact us

If you are interested in the project and looking for more details, feel free to contact us:

Dr Martin Birkett
Dr Abdul Wasy Zia 


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