Imperial College London

Dr James P. Ewen

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Mechanical Engineering

RAEng Research Fellow



j.ewen Website




462City and Guilds BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Dr. James P. Ewen is a Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) Research Fellow in the Tribology Group, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College London. He is a Chartered Engineer (CEng) and a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). He is also an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA).

James uses supercomputers to study solid-liquid interfaces with molecular simulations. He studies complex formulations to identify links between their nanoscale behaviour and macroscale performance. His research is highly interdisciplinary in nature and is of direct relevance to industry. James has worked with many large multinational companies (Shell, SKF, Afton Chemical, Baker Hughes, Repsol, and Procter & Gamble), scientific software specialists (Scienomics, NextMol, and SCM), and other institutions (Natural History Museum, Diamond Light Source, and DSTL) to help to solve engineering grand challenges. He has also collaborated with researchers from academic institutions all over the world, including ETH Zürich, University of Bologna, University of Saarland, TU Delft, Politecnico di Milano, RMIT University, King's College London, Brunel University London, University of California Merced, University of Alabama, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Pennsylvania. He is also a Visiting Research Fellow at Swinburne University of Technology, Australia. He is an Affiliate of the Institute of Molecular Science and Engineering (IMSE) and the Energy Futures Lab at Imperial College London as well as the Thomas Young Centre: The London Centre for Theory and Simulation of MaterialsHe is currently an Assistant Supervisor to six PhD students. He is a co-organiser of the Web Seminar Series on Tribology (WeSST) and the UK Fluids Network Special Interest Group in Non-Equilibrium Molecular Dynamics (NEMD-SIG).

In 2022, he received the inaugural Wen Shizhu Maple Leaf Award - International Young Scholar Award from the Stake Key Laboratory of Tribology at Tsinghua University. In 2020, he was awarded a RAEng Research Fellowship for the project 'Controlling Friction through Molecular Engineering'. He was awarded the Innovation in Tribology Award by the Institute of Physics (IOP) in 2019 and the Tribology Bronze Medal in 2018 by the IMechE. In 2017, he received a Doctoral Prize Fellowship from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). In the same year, he was awarded the Margaret Fishenden Centenary Memorial Prize for the best PhD Thesis in the Department of Mechanical Engineering over the previous five-year period. 

He completed his PhD in the Tribology Group at Imperial College London, under the supervision of Prof. Daniele Dini and Prof. Hugh Spikes in 2017. His iCASE PhD studentship was co-funded by Shell and the EPSRC and he spent 15-months placed in Shell technology centres around the world during his undergraduate and post-graduate studies. He graduated from the University of Bath with a Masters in Chemistry degree (First Class Hons.) in 2014.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Zhang J, Ewen J, Spikes H, 2022, Substituent effects on the mechanochemical response of zinc dialkyldithiophosphate, Molecular Systems Design & Engineering, Vol:7, ISSN:2058-9689, Pages:1045-1055

Ayestaran Latorre C, Moore J, Remias J, et al., 2021, Mechanochemistry of phosphate esters confined between sliding iron surfaces, Communications Chemistry, Vol:4, ISSN:2399-3669, Pages:1-11

Bhamra J, Ewen J, Ayestaran Latorre C, et al., 2021, Interfacial bonding controls friction in diamond–rock contacts, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, Vol:125, ISSN:1932-7447, Pages:18395-18408

Reddyhoff T, Ewen J, Deshpande P, et al., 2021, Macroscale superlubricity and polymorphism of long-chain n-alcohols, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, Vol:13, ISSN:1944-8244, Pages:9239-9251

Ewen JP, Ayestarán Latorre C, Gattinoni C, et al., 2020, Substituent effects on the thermal decomposition of phosphate esters on ferrous surfaces, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, Vol:124, ISSN:1932-7447, Pages:9852-9865

Zhang J, Ewen JP, Ueda M, et al., 2020, Mechanochemistry of zinc dialkyldithiophosphate on steel surfaces under elastohydrodynamic lubrication conditions, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, Vol:12, ISSN:1944-8244, Pages:6662-6676

Ewen J, Gao H, Mueser M, et al., 2019, Shear heating, flow, and friction of confined molecular fluids at high pressure, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Vol:21, ISSN:1463-9076, Pages:5813-5823

Gattinoni C, Ewen JP, Dini D, 2018, Adsorption of Surfactants on α-Fe<sub>2</sub>O<sub>3</sub>(0001): A Density Functional Theory Study, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, Vol:122, ISSN:1932-7447, Pages:20817-20826

Ewen JP, Kannam SK, Todd BD, et al., 2018, Slip of Alkanes Confined between Surfactant Monolayers Adsorbed on Solid Surfaces, Langmuir, Vol:34, ISSN:0743-7463, Pages:3864-3873

Ewen JP, Gattinoni C, Zhang J, et al., 2017, On the effect of confined fluid molecular structure on nonequilibrium phase behaviour and friction, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Vol:19, ISSN:1463-9076, Pages:17883-17894

Ewen JP, Gattinoni C, Morgan N, et al., 2016, Nonequilibrium molecular dynamics simulations of organic friction modifiers adsorbed on iron oxide surfaces, Langmuir, Vol:32, ISSN:0743-7463, Pages:4450-4463

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