SIMTech Composite Seminar: Advances in design with Advanced Composites enabled by Multi-scale Computed Tomography

Date: 22 Feb 2011 - 22 Feb 2011

Venue: SIMTech Training Room 1

The objective of this seminar is to highlight the leading research conducted at the University of Southampton, which has provided hitherto unobtainable, quantitative insights into the key damage mechanisms affecting the static and fatigue failure of composite materials. A vision for the future enhancement of composite design capabilities will be presented. This seminar is jointly organised by the British High Commission and SERC, A*STAR.

10.15am       Registration & Networking
10.30am       Seminar by Professor Simon Spearing, Southampton University, UK
11.30am       End  

About the Speaker
Mark Spearing is a Professor in the School of Engineering Sciences, Southampton University and is head of the School. He received his Ph.D from Cambridge University Engineering Department in 1990, working on the fatigue damage mechanics of carbon fiber composites. He worked as a research engineer at UC Santa Barbara from 1990-92 where he developed models for the failure of high temperature ceramic materials. From 1992-94 he was an engineering specialist at BP Research and subsequently a research engineer for Carborundum Microelectronics, where he was a member of the electronic packaging technology development team. From 1994 to 2004 he was on the faculty of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving tenure in 2001, and being appointed Full Professor in 2004. Professor Spearing's research focuses on developing mechanism-based models and design approaches for the failure of advanced engineered materials. His research activities involve advanced composites, layered materials and materials, structures and processes for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and other Microsystems. He has particularly worked on the development of wafer bonding processes for the creation of 3-D structures in MEMS and other Microsystems.  This activity has involved developing an understanding of the interaction between surface chemistry, local and wafer level deformation mechanisms and tool and process parameters. He also works in the area of structural health monitoring of composite structures. His educational activities focus on integrating the teaching of materials and structures.
In November 2004 Professor Spearing received a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award. He is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and was chairman of that organisation's Materials Technical Committee from 1997-1999. He is also a member of the Materials Research Society and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He is an editor of J. Microelectromechanical Systems, the European Editor of the Journal of Composite Materials and a editorial board member of Nanotechnology.  He has published over 160 papers including 95 in refereed journals.  He is a co-inventor on 5 patents. He has organised Materials Research Society symposia on the Materials Science of MicroElectromechanical Systems in 2000, 2001, 2007 and 2008. Professor Spearing twice won the MIT Aero/Astro Department's award for outstanding teaching in 1995 and 1997, and its award for student advising in 1999 and 2000.

Continuous fibre polymer matrix composites are now accepted for widespread use in aerospace applications, and increasingly in non-aerospace sectors such as energy, transportation and healthcare.  The design process for composite structures remains empirical, expensive and often conservative, compared to equivalent metallic structures.  For metallic structures there are well-developed design approaches to avoid yield and fracture, and for fatigue there is a sophisticated damage tolerant approach to design.
There are no equivalent methods for composite materials and structures, largely because the underpinning mechanisms are not well understood.  The challenge is that unlike metallic structures in which failure is usually determined by plastic deformation or propagation of a single dominant crack, failure in composites occurs by multiple interacting damage mechanisms, some of which are controlled at length-scales as small as a single fibre diameter (6-7 µm for a carbon fibre).
Even in a single small test coupon it has hitherto not  been possible to identify unambiguously the interactions responsible for damage initiation, and subsequent growth, which results in ultimate static failure and/or determines the fatigue life.  This situation has recently changed due to the availability of high resolution x-ray computed tomography supported by high performance computing capabilities, which for the first time has allowed the imaging of damage down to individual broken fibres, and fibre-matrix debonding in three dimensions as well as direct measurement of crack opening and shear displacements with representative fields of view. 
High performance computing provides the capability to handle the large resulting image files and to exploit feature recognition algorithms to identify microstructural features and damage automatically.  This capability combined with an in situ loading capability to allow the imaging of a specimen under load has the potential to be very powerful in understanding the fundamental aspects of failure in composite materials, and to provide the means for validating and improving models used in design. This lecture will report on world-leading research conducted at the University of Southampton, which has provided hitherto unobtainable, quantitative insights into the key damage mechanisms affecting the static and fatigue failure of composite materials.  A vision for the future enhancement of composite design capabilities will be presented. 

Who Should Attend
R&D managers, engineers, researchers, lecturers and engineering students who wish to know more about the latest development of the design of composite materials.

Registration for the seminar is free of charge. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Contact Us
For technical enquiries, please contact Dr Surya Darma Pandita, Email:; Tel: 6793 8958
For general enquiries, please contact Alice Koh, Email:; Tel: 6793 8249