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In the Department of Mechanical Engineering, through our staff's personal commitment to research informed teaching and industrial Research and Development, we carry out wide and varied inter-disciplinary research. On account of this Faculty-wide philosophy the Thornton Science Park provides an environment for creative and supportive research and development in which new ideas are created and flourish.

A considerable amount of the research and development that is carried out within the Department of Mechanical Engineering is conducted in conjunction with industry. This enables the enrichment of the student teaching and learning experience through current and directed research informed teaching which is heavily aligned to industry. This is significant as it makes inroads to achieving industry ready graduates who are aware and have an appreciation for the current needs of industry.

Chester Laser Laboratory

The University of Chester Laser Laboratory conducts research into laser materials processing.

Lasers are capable of modifying the surfaces of the majority of material types, including:

  • polymers
  • metals
  • ceramics
  • woods
  • composites

One of our primary applications involves using laser processing to control the adhesion of bacteria and subsequent growth of biofilms. This has particular application to the food and biomedical industries where control of bacterial contamination is of upmost importance.

In addition to this, we are keen to work with both industry and academia on all kinds of laser processing be it micro- and nano-machining of surfaces (see image: LIPSS produced on stainless steel), laser shock peening to strengthen materials, or machining (i.e. drilling, cutting and welding).

For more information, please visit the group website at www.chesterlasers.org

Smart Microsystems Research Group

The Smart Microsystems Research Group conducts research in the areas of:

  • Micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS)
  • Energy harvesting
  • Nonlinear vibration dynamics
  • Smart systems
  • Biosensor
  • Internet-of-things
  • Industry 4.0
  • Condition monitoring
  • Structural health monitoring

The research group has collaborations with a number of universities and industrial partners including University of Cambridge, University of Southampton, 8power Ltd, a formula one technology company, etc.

MEMS technology reinvents traditional bulky mechanical and electrical/electronics systems onto a single silicon microchip, which also results in several orders of magnitude improvements in their performance and cost effectiveness. For example, a traditional gyroscope that weighs several kilograms and measures several inches, now fits within smartphones with size no larger than a grain of rice. The image below shows a MEMS micro energy harvester, which can generate electricity by tapping into the ambient vibration.

Academic Lead: Dr Yu Jia (y.jia@chester.ac.uk)

Advanced Composite Research Group (ACRG)

  • Finite element analysis of composite behaviour
  • Impact dynamics
  • Machining of composite
  • Multifunctional composite
  • Damage assessment of composite
  • Non-destructive techniques
  • Structural health monitoring
  • Energy harvesting for aircraft application
  • De-icing of composite for aircraft
  • Recycled composite and repair

Academic Lead: Dr Yu Shi (y.shi@chester.ac.uk)

Manufacturing Research Group

The Manufacturing Research Group conducts research into advanced manufacturing methods in a range of areas, including:

  • sustainable and cloud manufacturing
  • production planning and control
  • computer integrated manufacturing
  • Industry 4.0
  • the development and management of Cyber Physical Systems

Academic Lead: Dr Paul Folan (p.folan@chester.ac.uk)

What has been said about our research?

Alice Gillett - "It’s very exciting to see the potential of today’s laser material processing research projects saving lives tomorrow. Using Excimer lasers to treat surfaces to minimize the attachment of deadly bacteria opens the door to a safer environment in hospitals and also in industry, a great example of how all contributions including this one from the University of Chester make ICALEO such an exciting conference."

Chi-Ho Ng - "The University of Chester’s paper on improving the surface of biomedical implants with laser surface treatment at ICALEO 2015 shows how laser material processing can be instrumental in tailoring material characteristics. We valued the contribution especially since it supported our expansion into biomedical applications of lasers and laser material processing in 2015, and hope to hear about further work in 2016."