Imperial College London


Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Materials

Professor of Physical Metallurgy



+44 (0)20 7594 8707c.gourlay




301DBessemer BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Research in the group seeks to understand and control microstructure formation in phase transformations.  A major focus is on the solidification of metallic alloys, and its applications in electronic soldering and structural castings.  Current research programmes include: Pb-free solders for harsh environments; solidification of solder alloys; Al-Mn-Fe intermetallics in magnesium; mushy zone mechanics; and liquid metal alloy ion sources.  Our team is part of the Engineering Alloys research theme in the Department of Materials.

Selected publications are given below. A full list of research publications can be found at the tab above, or on Google Scholar.  EPSRC research grants can be found at Grants on the web.

Brief CV

Chris read metallurgy at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford (MEng, 2002) and the University of Queensland (PhD, 2007), where he worked within the Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Cast Metals Manufacturing (the CAST CRC) on semi-solid deformation of Al and Mg alloys.  He was then a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Australian Research Council's CoE for design in light metals (2007-08).  He returned to the UK to join the Department of Materials at Imperial College London in 2008 on a RAEng/EPSRC Research Fellowship and built a group studying the solidification processing of alloys, focussing on microstructure development in electronic solders and the light alloys, Mg and Al.  He was made Lecturer in 2012, Senior Lecturer in 2014, Reader in 2016, and Professor in 2020.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Xian JW, Peng L, Zeng G, et al., 2021, Al11Mn4 formation on Al8Mn5 during the solidification and heat treatment of AZ-series magnesium alloys, Materialia, Vol:19, ISSN:2589-1529, Pages:1-12

Peng L, Zeng G, Lin CJ, et al., 2021, Al2MgC2 and AlFe3C formation in AZ91 Mg alloy melted in Fe-C crucibles, Journal of Alloys and Compounds, Vol:854, ISSN:0925-8388, Pages:1-13

Su TC, O'Sullivan C, Yasuda H, et al., 2020, Rheological transitions in semi-solid alloys: in-situ imaging and LBM-DEM simulations, Acta Materialia, Vol:191, ISSN:1359-6454, Pages:24-42

Cui Y, King DJM, Horsfield AP, et al., 2020, Solidification orientation relationships between Al3Ti and TiB2, Acta Materialia, Vol:186, ISSN:1359-6454, Pages:149-161

Peng L, Zeng G, Su TC, et al., 2019, Al8Mn5 particle settling and interactions with oxide films in liquid AZ91 magnesium alloys, JOM, Vol:71, ISSN:1047-4838, Pages:2235-2244

Belyakov S, Xian J, Zeng G, et al., 2019, Precipitation and coarsening of bismuth plates in Sn-Ag-Cu-Bi and Sn-Cu-Ni-Bi solder joints, Journal of Materials Science-Materials in Electronics, Vol:30, ISSN:0957-4522, Pages:378-390

Zeng G, Xian J, Gourlay C, 2018, Nucleation and growth crystallography of Al8Mn5 on B2-Al(Mn,Fe) in AZ91magnesium alloys, Acta Materialia, Vol:153, ISSN:1359-6454, Pages:364-376

Ma Z, Xian J, Belyakov S, et al., 2018, Nucleation and twinning in tin droplet solidification on single crystal intermetallic compounds, Acta Materialia, Vol:150, ISSN:1359-6454, Pages:281-294

Hou N, Belyakov S, Pay L, et al., 2018, Competition between stable and metastable eutectic growth in Sn-Ni alloys, Acta Materialia, Vol:149, ISSN:1359-6454, Pages:119-131

Ma ZL, Belyakov SA, Sweatman K, et al., 2017, Harnessing heterogeneous nucleation to control tin orientations in electronic interconnections, Nature Communications, Vol:8, ISSN:2041-1723

Shang H, Ma ZL, Belyakov SA, et al., 2017, Grain refinement of electronic solders: The potential of combining solute with nucleant particles, Journal of Alloys and Compounds, Vol:715, ISSN:0925-8388, Pages:471-485

Xian J, Belyakov S, Ollivier M, et al., 2017, Cu6Sn5 crystal growth mechanisms during solidification of electronic interconnections, Acta Materialia, Vol:126, ISSN:1359-6454, Pages:540-551

Xian JW, Ma ZL, Belyakov SA, et al., 2017, Nucleation of tin on the Cu6Sn5 layer in electronic interconnections, Acta Materialia, Vol:123, ISSN:1359-6454, Pages:404-415

Kareh KM, O'Sullivan C, Nagira T, et al., 2016, Dilatancy in semi-solid steels at high solid fraction, Acta Materialia, Vol:125, ISSN:1873-2453, Pages:187-195

Kareh KM, Lee PD, Atwood RC, et al., 2014, Revealing the micromechanisms behind semi-solid metal deformation with time-resolved X-ray tomography, Nature Communications, Vol:5, ISSN:2041-1723, Pages:1-7

Belyakov SA, Gourlay CM, 2014, Heterogeneous nucleation of βSn on NiSn4, PdSn4 and PtSn4, Acta Materialia, Vol:71, ISSN:1873-2453, Pages:56-68

Fonseca J, O'Sullivan C, Nagira T, et al., 2013, In situ study of granular micromechanics in semi-solid carbon steels, Acta Materialia, Vol:61, ISSN:1359-6454, Pages:4169-4179

Belyakov SA, Gourlay CM, 2012, NiSn4 formation during the solidification of Sn-Ni alloys, Intermetallics, Vol:25, ISSN:0966-9795, Pages:48-59

Yuan L, O'Sullivan C, Gourlay CM, 2012, Exploring dendrite coherency with the discrete element method, Acta Materialia, Vol:60, ISSN:1359-6454, Pages:1334-1345

Gourlay CM, Dahle AK, Nagira T, et al., 2011, Granular deformation mechanisms in semi-solid alloys, Acta Materialia, Vol:59, ISSN:1359-6454, Pages:4933-4943

Gourlay CM, Nogita K, Dahle AK, et al., 2011, In situ investigation of unidirectional solidification in Sn-0.7Cu and Sn-0.7Cu-0.06Ni, Acta Materialia, Vol:59, ISSN:1359-6454, Pages:4043-4054

Gourlay CM, Dahle AK, 2007, Dilatant shear bands in solidifying metals, Nature, Vol:445, ISSN:0028-0836, Pages:70-73

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