University of Manchester

MXIF News

Queen's Anniversary Prize Award

The award for “New Techniques in X-Ray Imaging of Materials Critical for Power, Transport and Other Key Industries,” recognises the special contribution our research and expertise has made to the UK’s strategic development in advanced materials and manufacturing.

The University of Manchester has been presented with the most prestigious award in UK higher education, the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education (2012-2014), for our work in developing world-leading imaging techniques. The award for “New Techniques in X-Ray Imaging of Materials Critical for Power, Transport and Other Key Industries,” recognises the special contribution our research and expertise has made to the UK’s strategic development in advanced materials and manufacturing. Our innovative imaging work has significant impact across a wide range of sectors, including nuclear, aerospace, oil and gas, airport security, automotive, biomedical materials, manufacturing and defence. It also produces wider benefits by transferring this knowledge and understanding into medical and life sciences, cultural heritage, palaeontology, and food technology; as well as training future engineers and scientists in the use of leading imaging techniques.

In particular, the award recognises our contribution in three areas:

New research illuminating our understanding of materials performance and failure

We have pioneered the use of high resolution X-ray imaging techniques for the study of advanced engineering materials under various failure modes. Our ten X-ray imagers, located at the Henry Moseley X-Ray Facility and the Research Complex on the Harwell site, allow the study of the structural evolution of materials during manufacture, and the degradation of components under in-service environments in 3D. Our research into residual stresses is more highly cited than those from any other single organisation world-wide.

Socio-economic and industrial impact

Our knowledge of residual stress measurement, modelling and mitigation is accessible to industry through the Materials Testing and Analysis (MTA) Unit. Its main focus is measuring residual stresses in engineering components using X-ray diffraction, and is the only testing laboratory in the UK accredited to UKAS standards (ISO 17025) for this work. Our Stress Unit and our Imaging Unit both work alongside a broad spectrum of companies to validate manufacturing processes and extend lifetimes of critical engineering components. In this aspect we have strategic relationships with Rolls-Royce and BP.

Academic leadership

We are at the forefront of the development of 3D-imaging techniques for advanced engineering, and lead a UK network in Computer Tomography. We have contributed significantly to the building of pioneering stress and imaging facilities at international centres. Most recently, we pioneered a University partnership with Diamond Light Source to build and operate a new imaging beamline (I13) and to work together to grow novel imagining instrumentation.