Materials Engineering


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Cell and Tissue Engineering Laboratories

Students doing a lab practical as part of the the Tissue Engineering module.
Students doing a lab practical as part of the the Tissue Engineering module.

The cell and tissue engineering laboratories provide extensive facilities for tissue engineering, mechanobiology and biomechanics research and teaching. The facilities include five dedicated cell culture laboratories, a molecular biology facility and general purpose and biochemistry laboratories. The labs house machines for mechanical testing of biological tissues or implantable materials as well as equipment for a wide range of biochemical/cell biology analysis.

Confocal Laser Scanning and Super Resolution Microscopy Lab

Confocal fluorescence 3D reconstruction of tendon cells (nuclei labelled blue, primary cilia cytoskeleton red)
Confocal fluorescence 3D reconstruction of tendon cells (nuclei labelled blue, primary cilia cytoskeleton red)

The School of Engineering and Materials Science hosts a confocal microscopy containing two laser scanning confocal microscopes - a Perkin Elmer spinning disc system and a Leica SP2 with multiphoton laser and lifetime imaging system.

In addition the Institute of Bioengineering will soon be purchasing a new confocal microscope associated with a super resolution system. The unit enables live cell fluorescence imaging (GFP, calcium imaging etc), 3D reconstruction and morphological measurement, photobleaching assays such as FRAP and FLIP and fluorescence lifetime microscopy(FLIM). The microscopes also interface with sophisticated mechanical loading systems for tissues, individual living cells (micropipette aspiration) and artificial constructs.

Prof Martin Knight

Confocal Microscopy Lab »

Electrochemistry Facilities

The School has a wide range of electrochemical and photoelectrochemical facilities for testing of energy materials. These include:

(1) Xe lamp 400W with solar simulator filter, potentiostat and electrochemical cell: for photocurrent measurements of photoelectrodes in multiple electrolytes, in a three-electrode (half cell) configuration, under 1 sun simulated conditions (with IR filter to avoid overheating of lamp and sample).
(2) Zahner photoelectrochemistry station: fully integrated photoelectrochemical workstation for high accuracy QE/IPCE measurements. Also with a tuneable LED light source that allows to measure photocurrent response at different wavelengths and possibility of measure electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, too.
(3) Rotating Disc Electrode (RDE) and potentiostat (with FRA for measuring electrochemical impedance spectroscopy): RDE in three-electrode electrochemical cell configuration with potentiostat to measure the electrocatalytic activity of new materials towards the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) and oxygen reduction reaction (ORR)
(4) Potentiostat Biologic (+/- 5V -10A) and redox flow battery system: for measuring the performance of electrode materials in full cell configuration for redox flow cell applications.

Facility for Materials Engineering in Magnetic Fields

MagMat is a unique capability in the UK for the synthesis and processing of materials in strong magnetic fields (SMF)

Prof Michael Reece (

MagMat »

Materials Characterisation Lab

Contact Angle Goniometer
Contact Angle Goniometer

The Materials Characterisation Lab provides a full analysis service in materials science and contains an impressive variety of analytical equipment to cover a broad range of tests and analyses, which are used for structural, thermal and mechanical analysis. The facility offers an analysis service to university-based and external users, both industrial and academic.

The Materials Characterisation Lab is located in the Engineering building (room 232) at the Mile End campus. There are a range of charges for using these facilities.

Materials Characterisation Lab »

Mechanical Testing Facilities

Students using mechanical testing equipment.
Students using mechanical testing equipment.

The School has a variety of mechanical testing equipment used to determine the mechanical properties of different materials and structures ranging from aircraft components to new implant materials or even biological tissues. These testing machines apply forces in compression, tension or torsion and can be used to find out material properties such as ultimate strength and modulus.

Mechanical Workshop

Mechanical Workshop (section)
Mechanical Workshop (section)

The School of Engineering and Material Science has a purpose built, fully equipped mechanical workshop where students and academics can come and have their parts manufactured for both research and projects relating to their field of interest. It contains both manual and CAD/CAM controlled milling and turning machines for high-speed production of complex parts in a variety of materials. Also available is a state-of-the-art FDM 3D printer for rapid prototyping in a broad range of thermoplastics. Designs and ideas can be realised by apprentice trained mechanical technicians with years of experience in a variety of engineering backgrounds.

Mechanical Workshop »

Nano Fluids Research Labs

The School has a rapidly expanding group working on heat transfer from nano-fluids which are liquids containing nano-scale particles that act to alter the fundamental thermo-physical properties of the fluid and so increase heat transfer rates. The specific research includes formulation of nanoparticles and stable nanofluids in a purpose built laboratory. In addition, a new test facility is being constructed to investigate flow and heat transfer behavior of nanofluids in micro-tubes. The research will include mechanistic analysis of micro/nanoscale energy transportation and enhanced heat transfer performance.

NanoVision Centre

Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image of human bone from a patient with osteoporosis.
Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image of human bone from a patient with osteoporosis.

The NanoVision Centre is a state-of-the-art microscopy unit which brings together the latest microscope techniques for structural, chemical and mechanical analysis at the nanometer scale (1/1000000 mm). The facility contains an impressive range of electron microscopes, scanning probe microscopes and associated analytical equipment for use in the cutting-edge research being conducted by students and staff.

NanoVision »

Photoelectrochemical Imaging


Light-Addressable Potentiometric Sensors (LAPS) and Scanning Photo-induced Impedance Microscopy (SPIM) are imaging techniques based on photocurrent measurements at electrolyte/insulator/silicon (EIS) field-effect structures. They are capable of measuring local changes in the surface potential (LAPS), which can be used to image ion concentrations, and of measuring the local impedance (SPIM).

LAPS and SPIM have great potential as tools for functional electrochemical imaging of the attachment area of cells, providing information such as ion concentration, extracellular potentials and cell impedance. The techniques are particularly attractive for analysing responses of cells with planar polarisation or cell types that separate one compartment from the other as the cell-surface attachment area is not accessible to conventional electrophysiological and electrochemical imaging.

Photoelectron spectroscopy

A ThermoFisher Nexsa X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometer (XPS) System enables a range of photoelectron spectroscopy measurements on a range of materials. It includes facility for:

- X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS)
- Ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy (UPS)
- Reflection electron energy loss spectroscopy (REELS)
- Ion Scattering Spectroscopy (ISS)

Richard Whitely (

Polymer processing

Extensive polymer processing facilities are available, with details found at:

Nanoforce Polymer Processing »

Spectroscopy Facility

FTIR equipment for materials analysis.
FTIR equipment for materials analysis.

We have a variety of sophisticated spectrometers which are used to identify specific compounds and investigate composition of materials prepared as either a liquid, solid, film or powder.

These devices include:
- Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR)
- Raman Spectroscopy
- Near InfraRed Spectroscopy (uv-vis NIR).

The Makerspace

The Makerspace
The Makerspace

The Makerspace is an open access workshop for all SEMS and EECS students and staff. It is, as the name implies a space for making things: prototyping through practical model creation.

The Makerspace »

Thermal Analysis Facility

Differential Scanning Calorimeter.
Differential Scanning Calorimeter.

We have a variety of excellent techniques for analysis the thermal properties of materials such as melting temperature, glass transition temperature, viscosity, thermal expansion and thermo-mechanical properties over a range of temperatures (-150 to 1600C).

The techniques include:
- Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC)
- Rheometery
- Thermo Gravimetric Analysis (TGA)
- Simultaneous Thermal Analysis (STA)
- Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA)
- Dilatometry.

Thermoelectric Suite

Linseis TFA
Linseis TFA

The school houses a suite of instruments for the accurate measurement of thermoelectric materials in bulk or thin film form, including:
- Laser Flash Analyzer (Netzsch 453 LFA)
- Electrical conductivity and Seebeck measurement (Linseis LSR3)
- Thin film electrical and thermal conductivity, and Seebeck measurement (Linseis TFA)

Prof. Mike Reece (
Dr. Oliver Fenwick (

Undergraduate Teaching Labs

We have recently invested £8M in major new teaching laboratories to provide state-of-the-art experimental facilities specifically for teaching of undergraduate students.
Opened in 2016 the lab provides a space on the ground floor with step free access and has a height adjustable bench installed for wheelchair users.

X-ray Diffraction Facility

PANalytical Empyrean diffractometer
PANalytical Empyrean diffractometer

The X-ray Diffraction Facility (XDF) offers a full diffraction analysis service in materials science, structural chemistry, structural biology and solid state science.

The facility is located in the Francis Bancroft building (room G.30) at the Mile End campus, and is operated by the School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Richard Whitely (

X-ray Diffraction Facility »