" /> Advanced materials — Edinburgh Innovations

Advanced materials 

The University of Edinburgh has a rich variety of research expertise, from materials development and testing, and identifying green alternatives to existing materials, through to the use of functional materials, and modelling and simulation to support the development of high-value materials.

Key areas of expertise

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Advanced materials

Our world-leading researchers are advancing the applications of materials, fluids and new processes, for our industrial clients.

  • Understanding materials design and characterisation
  • Manufacture and processing of composite materials
  • Fire testing of materials and structures
  • Understanding dynamic, impact and ballistic performance of advanced materials
  • A range of mechanical testing from fibres to large scale structures
We offer expertise in the use of composite materials in aerospace, off-shore and on-shore wind, marine tidal energy systems, automotive and oil and gas applications.

  • Novel composites for renewable energy applications (tidal and wind energy blades)
  • Advanced composites and new materials for use in structural engineering
  • Structural performance in fire and at elevated temperature environments
  • Strengthening and repair of infrastructure
  • Silos and thin-walled structures
  • Dynamic effects in structures and materials
  • Structural health monitoring, non-destructive testing
  • Sensing of damage in composites
  • Pipeline design for oil and gas and offshore
  • Processing of thermoset and thermoplastic composites
  • Biomechanical applications of structural engineering

Formulation and complex fluid expertise for product development

We work with a wide range of clients and provide expertise and research to support product development in a variety of fields including household products, personal care, food and drink, paints, varnishes, adhesives, lubricants and pharmaceuticals.

  • Understanding the flow of concentrated dispersions
    Ability to determine the physical stability of dispersions
  • Understanding and controlling interface stabilisation
  • Controlling the behaviour of colloidal protein aggregates
  • Mechanically robust, high-surface-area materials for energy applications
  • Understanding composite structure and processing performance
  • Properties of liquid crystals under confinement and flows

Functional materials

Our range of current work includes ground-breaking research in:

  • Crystalline molecular and network solids
  • Electronic and magnetic materials
  • Polymers and amorphous materials
  • New polymers from sustainable feedstock
  • Bio-sensing polymers
  • Catalysis/surface chemistry
  • Biocompatible polymers
  • Water purifying polymers
  • Earth abundant initiators
  • New materials for emerging solar photovoltaic technologies
  • Phase-change materials for heat storage
  • Separation of gases and utilisation of waste CO2
  • New materials for efficient hydrogen production
  • Negative or zero thermal expansion materials


Research into materials relevant to the medical and healthcare sector is an area of specialism at the University of Edinburgh, from the modelling of materials and structures used in surgical implants to orthopaedic engineering and tribology.

Biomedical implants can improve quality of life by enhancing the functionality of essential body systems, supporting damaged biological structures, or even replacing human organs. Research into the application of polymers and nanotechnology to modify the surface of implants for enhanced mechanical properties and biocompatibility is an area of research at the University available to be harnessed by companies in the healthcare sector.

Edinburgh’s world-leading computational facilities for product design and performance improvement

The UK National Supercomputing Service, ARCHER, housed at the University, provides the backbone of our world-class data-driven innovation expertise. Join the many industry clients who take advantage in working with us to model materials and their applications.
Gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms dominating multi-scale behaviour and performance and the ability to accelerate and improve the design of a wide range of formulations, composites, materials and their applications.

Facilities at the University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh is host to an extensive range of facilities, equipment and expertise which can be accessed by companies and organisations for in-house projects. Find out how to access the facilities, equipment and expertise at the University, or to discuss a particular project in greater depth.

Explore all facilities in the College of Science and Engineering


Explore facilities available at the University of Edinburgh for advanced materials

  1. New structural composites research facility – Fastblade 

This upcoming innovative £1.8m research facility, the first of its kind in the world, is dedicated to the test and assessment of the mechanical performance of large structures under simulated fatigue loading. The facility will enable faster fatigue or cyclic load testing of large structures and accelerated research into fundamental engineering options for new materials technology and quicker evaluation leading to more rapid certification and deployment to market.

  1. The structures laboratory Composite Materials Lab

This facility provides a range of structures testing equipment from small coupons to
full-scale structures, and allows structural testing on material samples.

  1. Materials testing laboratory

The new (2017) material testing laboratory houses static and dynamic test machines (50kN-300kN) for specialised mechanical testing of advanced composite materials. It comes complete with environmental chamber (-70°C to 300°C), non-contact video extensometry and Digital Image Correlation. Our mechanical testing is supported by a range of materials characterisation equipment such as DSC and DMTA and both optical and scanning electron microscopy.

  1. Materials processing laboratory 

The laboratory offers the novel processing
of fibre reinforced polymer composites, including thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers, using powder processing, liquid moulding, press moulding, in-situ polymerisation of thermoplastics and
novel pre-pregging facilities.

Read about our current projects and success stories

Bioremediation in drinks production

Dr Louise Horsfall is collaborating with drinks producer Diageo to use biological techniques to turn environmentally hazardous copper ions in distillery co-products into copper nanoparticles that can be recovered and used in various industrial applications.

Understanding the mechanism for physical stability in dispersions

Researchers in the Edinburgh Complex Fluids Partnership worked with Fujifilm to improve their understanding of the interactions between a new polymer and a pigment particle. They had noticed that a sediment formed unexpectedly at high concentrations and wanted to understand why. As a result of the collaborative project, the company can now produce stable dispersions with confidence.

Materials recovery

Researchers at Edinburgh collaborated with Cytec Industries to develop a new technology
to recover base metals from more prolific laterite ores. The research group, led by Professor Jason Love, has extensive expertise in the design of strong and selective metal-complexing agents. The work is underpinned by the computational chemistry of Professor Carole Morrison which enables structures and properties of the metal complexes to be probed in detail.

Contact us to find out how we can help