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Composites, Multilayers, Foams and Fibre Network Materials

Two novel types of composite material subjected to extensive recent study in the group are bonded networks of metallic fibres, either in isolation or as the core of sandwich panels, and metallic fibre reinforced ceramic composites.

Bonded metallic fibre networks offer promise in several types of application, including those requiring stiff, lightweight and temperature-resistant sheets, ballistic protection, rapid heat exchange, filtration and acoustic damping. Novel modelling work, both analytical and numerical, has encompassed characterisation of network architecture (using computed X-ray microtomography) and prediction of mechanical, thermal and acoustic properties. Tailored anisotropy and inhomogeneity can readily be generated in such materials, leading to scope for optimisation of various properties.

Metallic fibre reinforced ceramic composites are being investigated for situations demanding high-temperature capability, good thermal shock resistance and high toughness, such as those present in the steel and aluminium industries. Particular emphasis is being placed on optimising and understanding the fracture mechanisms of such materials.

Much of this work is being undertaken in collaboration with industry, including Fibretech, a world-leader in melt extraction processing for metal fibre production and producer of an innovative stainless steel reinforced ceramic composite.