Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Materials engineering – metals and alloys

Understanding, modelling and processing of metals and alloys with respect to the properties and material behaviour and development of novel materials.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

This area encompasses understanding, modelling and processing of metals and alloys with respect to the properties and material behaviour and development of novel materials.

We will support world-class materials expertise that underpins sustainable growth aligned to key sectors such as automotive, aerospace, and energy – for example, light-weighting, metal systems for demanding environments. We will work with the community to establish and nurture interdisciplinary links addressing the microstructure-processing-performance triangle.

Research opportunities will focus on reducing material demand through resource efficiency and reducing product development lead times through a greater understanding of the microstructure-processing-performance triangle.

We will work with the community to establish and nurture links with researchers and the manufacturing sector. This includes linking to the manufacturing technologies research area and focusing on the circular economy and on reducing energy demand for material production. Technology transfer and uptake must be ensured while maintaining a healthy research base.

There is an opportunity to bring together advances in modelling and experimentation to increase the rate of discovery and development of new materials. The community should work towards understanding these challenges and establishing solutions.

We aim to:

Support the community to connect UK research

We will do this through a cross-disciplinary approach, researching in response to the advanced materials strategy and creating links with the Henry Royce Institute. A key challenge is to sustain and develop interdisciplinary relationships, enhancing a portfolio that addresses novel research at the interface between engineering, physical sciences and mathematical sciences.

Encourage research that links through to other areas

Examples include:

  • performance and inspection of mechanical structures and systems
  • manufacturing technologies
  • continuum mechanics
  • numerical analysis
  • functional ceramics and inorganics
  • materials for energy applications
  • nuclear fission
  • energy storage
  • resource efficiency
  • materials engineering – ceramics
  • materials engineering – composites.

Work with stakeholders to nurture talent

We want to provide the next generation of skilled researchers for the academic and industrial sectors in the UK, from PhD to early-career level. It is essential that this talent is nurtured and retained in later career stages, ensuring that academic expertise is preserved following the completion of studentships.

Why we're doing it

Investments in this research area are world-leading and strongly aligned to national needs and industrial challenges. Overall, investment in research has remained constant, with an increase in training investment through the doctoral training partnership and industrial collaborative awards in science and technology allocations, and the 2013 centre for doctoral training exercise. The talent pipeline is healthy, with a number of fellows and the third largest suite of PhD or EngD students funded through EPSRC’s three doctoral training mechanisms.

The formation of the Henry Royce Institute and critical innovation drivers such as the High Value Manufacturing Catapult will have a strong influence on the research landscape, so strategic alignment and integration across the landscape will be important. We recognise this area’s contribution to national strategic needs, including industrial strategies for the automotive, aerospace and nuclear energy sectors. This research area has the potential to disrupt and transform these sectors and is critical to sustaining advanced materials research in the UK.

EPSRC and government interventions have significantly increased access to world-class facilities across the UK. Examples of EPSRC and government interventions include:

Recent investments will increase this further – for example the Henry Royce Institute and the National Research Facility for Laboratory X-ray Computed Tomography.

Multidisciplinary research is substantial in this area, enabling researchers to address an array of associated challenges. There are strong connections to other research areas and there is still a need to sustain and improve these links.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for materials engineering – metals and alloys.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Who to contact

Last updated: 22 December 2022

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.