Materials Science and Engineering

Information on the research and impact of Materials science and engineering at the University of Dundee.

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This cluster addresses the need for improved material properties for related industrial sectors to create a range of innovatory functional materials and micro/nano-structured surfaces and coatings.

The development of new technologies to advance the processing and engineering of traditional and new materials is consequently of paramount importance for several industrial sectors, reflecting societal needs for innovation, improved standards, and low-cost production methods.

Research is focused on producing and exploiting advanced materials, including functional materials, meta materials, photonics materials, biomaterials, electronic materials, ceramic materials, ferroelectric materials, nanomaterials and smart materials. Such materials have new or improved structural or functional properties, and have applications across a wide range of sectors, including biomedical engineering, telecommunications, electronics, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, transport, security and energy.

Cluster members have a wide-ranging expertise including materials physics and chemistry, optical physics, and materials surface engineering.


Two impact case studies submitted to REF2021 (see page 46) originate from this cluster were: one concerns data-handling network technology for commercial telecommunications, global-positioning, weather, environmental-monitoring, scientific and exploration space missions, which is now the industry standard protocol for command, control, telemetry and low-mid rate data communications in satellites and space vehicles – this line of research is no longer being followed at Dundee; the other concerns the development of new alloys with reduced costs, simplification of manufacturing processes and shorter lead-times, which allowed Rautomead (a local company with global reach) to substantially improve quality, resulting in reduced risk of consumer returns and the protection of their international brand. A third impact case study was produced that was built on high-precision laser surface engineering technology developed in cluster, which has found direct application in the vacuum systems of advanced particle accelerators and is being applied to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN; the case study was judged to have produced academic impact so far and was not submitted.

The cluster are currently developing avenues for impact in coating technology to produce new anti-fouling heat exchangers, nanocomposite coatings for catheters medical devices-related infections, development of biocompatible tissue engineering and wound dressing materials through electrospinning and 3D bioprinting, and Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS)-based approaches for applications in bioanalytical sensing, such as in vivo tumour targeting, glucose sensing at clinically relevant concentrations and microbial system analysis.

Contribution to the strategic themes

Ensuring Environmental Sustainability

  • coating technology to produce new anti-fouling heat exchangers
  • improved sources of clean energy (fuel cell technology, solar cells and so on) through the application of materials science or laser technology
  • copper and high-entropy alloys for electric transport (overhead electric cabling for electric trains, inter alia)

Enhancing Human Health and Wellbeing

  • novel anti-infective biomaterials for biomedical devices and implants by surface coating and laser nano-structuring techniques
  • biocompatible tissue engineering and wound dressing materials through electrospinning and 3D bioprinting; advanced functional materials for sensing applications
  • improvement and simplification of legionella detection chemical sensors based on nanoparticle embedded polymer materials

Research cluster lead