Structural Materials and Geomechanics

The overarching aim of the group is to generate new understandings of materials in terms of basic science at all scale levels (nano-scale through to macro-scale) and apply this to practical applications that address societal needs in the key areas of UK government policy including climate change, sustainable construction and civil and industrial infrastructure.

Research Aims

The overarching aim of the group is to generate new understandings of materials in terms of basic science at all scale levels (nano-scale through to macro-scale) and apply this to practical applications that address societal needs in the key areas of UK government policy including climate change, sustainable construction and civil infrastructure.

We have a diverse range of on-going experimental programmes from the thermo-hydro-mechanical behaviour of clay, industrial particulate solids, granular materials under unsaturated conditions, the hydration and microstructural development of cementitious materials, monitoring the performance of concrete (at full-scale) under environmental loading through to developments in non-destructive testing (NDT) of structural materials. Experimental investigations are coupled with numerical studies which comprise continuum and multi-scale modelling of multi-phase materials.

Research Impacts

Many aspects of our work have found application in the key areas noted above, for example:

  • Research on granular materials has direct impact on solids flow and pressures in silos which continues to reduce the high incidence of silo failures worldwide. This work is contributing to codes and standards
  • Studies on particulate materials generally, are producing world-wide impact in the materials-handling industry which spans agriculture, food processing, chemical and pharmaceutical
  • The thermo-hydro-mechanical behaviour of clays is of particular interest to the nuclear industry in relation to containment of low-/medium level waste streams
  • The response (and physio-chemical properties) of saturated/unsaturated soils is critical in relation to climate-change induced changes in their level of saturation as are the effects of flooding-events on earth construction
  • Developments in NDT and durability-monitoring of structural concrete impacts on the repair and maintenance of our civil infrastructure

Whilst these areas of research will continue to form the core to the Group's work, future developments include nano-engineering of cement microstructure to form ultra-high performance concretes. Further, the development of cementitious materials with multi-functional capabilities has the potential of being transformative in our usage of this group of materials.

Research Partners

Academics from the University of Edinburgh:

  • Professor Jin Ooi
  • Professor M. Rotter
  • Professor M. Forde
  • Dr M Crapper
  • Dr S. Papanicolopulos
  • Dr J. Sun

Academics from Heriot-Watt University:

  • Professor W. John McCarter
  • Professor T. Malcolm Chrisp
  • Professor P. K. Woodward
  • Dr G. Medero
  • Dr B. Surranto
Microstructure of Cementitous Materials
Microstructure of Cementitous Materials
Civil Infrastructure, viewed from above a major road junction
Civil and Industrial Infrastructure