Solid Mechanics

Bristol's centre for materials engineering and structural integrity.

The Solid Mechanics Research Group (SMRG) at Bristol has a successful history of using applied mechanics and cutting-edge technology to help define and solve industrially-motivated problems. Based in the School of Civil, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, and part of the South-West Nuclear Hub, we have established close and productive partnerships with a range of companies in the energy, transport and manufacturing sectors, with much focus on civil nuclear and other safety-critical industries in recent years.

We investigate the behaviour of engineering materials and components to help support their successful performance. Our research covers damage mechanics (fracture, fatigue, corrosion, creep), materials in harsh environments and residual stress characterisation from nano-scale to macro-scale.

We have substantial experimental and theoretical capabilities, including:

• Well-equipped mechanical testing suite, including state of the art equipment for high temperature Low Cycle Fatigue, environmental chambers, creep, Digital Image Correlation.

• Delivering all aspects of X-ray and neutron experiments at central multi-user facilities: planning, rig design, experimentation, and realising industrial impact from the subsequent data analysis.

• High Performance Computing, with Bristol having one of the leading UK academic HPC systems.

Our micromechanical testing capabilities, and associated modelling expertise, are of particular relevance to the nuclear industry. We can measure the mechanical properties of very small samples of highly irradiated materials and then “scale up” the results to help predict macro-scale behaviour of engineering components. There is increasing recognition of the importance of multiscale effects. Nano-scale precipitates in alloys can influence microscopic deformation which, in turn, can have an effect on macro-scale cracking. We are developing powerful multiscale approaches to considering residual stress, creep and the influence of microstructure and irradiation effects on structural materials for the nuclear industry.

We are always willing to consider opportunities for research projects from academic and industrial institutions; and we regularly have student and postdoctoral research positions available. Please check our website, which is updated regularly.


We study what makes things strong and what makes things fail: from sudden events like brittle fracture to the long-term creep of materials at high temperature. Our work allows engineers to design ever more reliable and efficient structures, and to predict the behaviour of existing ones.

The constant demand to ensure safety and fitness-for-purpose of critical components and industrial plant operating in ever more demanding conditions and environments, such as extended periods of service or elevated temperatures, drives the need for innovative, advanced and exciting mechanics solutions

Professor David Knowles, Head of Group
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