The Experimental Micromechanical Characterisation Research Group focus on understanding how microstructure informs properties for materials used in high-risk high-value applications. We work to develop new characterization approaches, as well as applying these to solve industrial challenges. The group has been based at Imperial since 2021, but in 2022 Dr Britton moved to be an Associate Professor at UBC, Vancouver. A few members are finishing their PhD studies at Imperial, where Dr Britton currently holds a Visiting Reader appointment in Metallurgy and Microscopy.

See Dr Ben Britton's profile.

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H2S cracking in pipeline TMCP steel

Sarah Hiew Sze Kei (Research Postgraduate)

Co-supervised by Dr Stella Pedrazzini, Dr Thibaut Dessolier and Willem Maarten van Haaften

In collaboration with Shell Global Solutions International B.V.


Thermo-Mechanical Control Process (TMCP) steels were used as pipeline structures within the oil and natural gas industry due to its high strength, toughness and weldability. Despite being long accepted for operation, there is a risk that TMCP steels can be susceptible to sulphide stress cracking (SSC) in the presence of aqueous H2S environment, leading to premature failure. This project aims to study the mechanistic behaviour of TMCP steel under such low pH environment using an in-situ cathodic charging rig designed in-house. Results obtained from the various crack monitoring techniques used during the experiment will be corelated with findings obtained from the post-mortem microstructural analysis. Finally, these observations will be assessed together with those obtained using the autoclave H2S gaseous method.

Development of characterisation methods for aerospace failure investigation

Mitra Ashrafi Golshan (Research Postgraduate)

Co-supervised by Dr Katharina Marquardt 

In collaboration with Rolls-Royce plc

Member of Advanced Characterisation of Materials CDT

In this project, two off materials will be studied; Titanium-64 alloy and Inconel-718 superalloy, which are widely used in aerospace applications. I will develop characterisation methods for the signature of damage and failure of aero-engine components using electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD). Additionally, during this study, the experimental result will be correlated with other methods, including electron channelling contrast image (ECCI) and kernel average misorientation (KAM) mapping to understand deformation and relate dislocation structures to crack path and impact of fatigue in the two materials.


Plastic deformation of lead-free solders

Yusen Wang (Research Postgraduate)

Co-supervised by Dr Christopher Gourlay



Lead-free solders are used as interconnects in many electronic devices. At room temperature they are at a significant fraction of their melting temperature (>0.6Tm) and can fail due to creep. Furthermore, when devices are dropped they can be deformed at very high strain rate. In this project, I am using variable temperature and variable strain rate macro- and micro-mechanical testing to understanding the role of intermetallic compounds found in lead free solders.