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, Australia (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 then stayed on for a year as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and developed an interest in Pb-free solders.  Chris 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

Wang D, Peng L, Gourlay CM, 2024, Al-Mn-based decagonal quasicrystal in AZ magnesium alloys and its nucleation on Al8Mn5 during solidification, Scripta Materialia, Vol:241, ISSN:1359-6462

Lin CJ, Wang D, Peng L, et al., 2024, Carbides in AZ91 and their role in the grain refinement of magnesium, Journal of Alloys and Compounds, Vol:971, ISSN:0925-8388

Cui Y, Xian JW, Zois A, et al., 2023, Nucleation and growth of Ag3Sn in Sn-Ag and Sn-Ag-Cu solder alloys, Acta Materialia, Vol:249, ISSN:1359-6454, Pages:1-15

Peng L, Zeng G, Xian J, et al., 2022, Al–Mn–Fe intermetallic formation in AZ91 magnesium alloys: Effects of impurity iron, Intermetallics, Vol:142, ISSN:0966-9795, Pages:1-15

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

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, NiSn<sub>4</sub> 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, Meylan B, Dahle AK, 2008, Shear mechanisms at 0-50% solid during equiaxed dendritic solidification of an AZ91 magnesium alloy, Acta Materialia, Vol:56, ISSN:1359-6454, Pages:3403-3413

Gourlay CM, Laukli HI, Dahle AK, 2007, Defect band characteristics in Mg-Al and Al-Si high-pressure die castings, Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A-Physical Metallurgy and Materials Science, Vol:38A, ISSN:1073-5623, Pages:1833-1844

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

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