RV Jones Distinguished Lecture Series: The Invention of New Materials

RV Jones Distinguished Lecture Series: The Invention of New Materials

This is a past event

Given by Prof. Norman Fleck FREng FRS, Cambridge University Engineering Dept.


Admission free, book your place   

Historically, after new materials were discovered they gave rise to a rapid change in lifestyle, for example the transition from the stone age to the bronze age, to the iron age and more recently to the steel age. The co-evolution of weapons and armour provides an excellent example of ‘materials-driven natural selection’. Over more recent history new materials have been invented in order meet a societal need or to generate a societal need. How is this done, and what is the best way of inventing new materials? 

The talk will focus on the role of composition, micro-architecture and length scale of material constituents in order to achieve a particular set of material properties.  Impact-resistant ship hulls made from lattice-cored sandwich-panels is an exemplar of this optimisation process. Jet engines pose a particular challenge for high strength at high temperature, and the required set of properties can only be achieved by developing composites or by multi-layers. But there remain many challenges. For example, polymeric foams of large cell size are tough but are poor thermal insulators, whereas foams with small cells are brittle but act as excellent thermal insulators. Is there a way of making tough but thermally insulating foams? The future for new materials remains bright but absolute theoretical limits exist that must be respected.

Professor Norman Fleck FREng FRS Professor in Engineering at Cambridge since 1997, his research concerns the mechanical behaviour of solids under different conditions at the microscopic level. His major contributions have arisen in the area of novel materials and their applications in a wide range of activities, including the aerospace, automotive and construction industries.

He is known for his work on the properties of metal foams and on stiff but lightweight lattice materials. Norman is notable for combining his theoretical understanding with enthusiasm for experiment and application. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2013 Warner T. Koiter Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in recognition of his leadership in the international solid mechanics community.

Professor Norman Fleck FREng FRS
King's Conference Centre

Admission free, book your place