Aston Institute of Materials Research (AIMR)

 (Researchers in the Aston Institute of Materials Research (AIMR) undertake cutting-edge multidisciplinary materials-based research with real impact. 

AIMR comprises academics and researchers from across the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Aston University. Based in the heart of Birmingham, Aston has a long history of materials-based research, and this institute brings together that research in one place. 

We work across disciplines and institutions as well as collaborating with industry on a variety of exciting research areas. We welcome collaboration and interest from external companies and universities. 

Please contact us:

Professor Paul D. Topham (Director)
Tel: 0121 204 3413

Dr Richard Martin (Deputy Director)
Tel: 0121 204 5111

Dr Yuqing Zhang (Deputy Director)
Tel: 0121 204 3391

Aston Institute of Materials Research - Areas of Expertise

The Institute provides a multidisciplinary, multi-expertise setting, in which materials-based research can take place, from the design of novel materials, through to the testing for specific applications, as well as all the necessary stages in between.

We aim to provide a thriving research community for Aston and its collaborators.

AIMR Objectives

The expertise contained within the institute allows for highly multidisciplinary research. Our group contains:

• Chemists
• Biologists
• Chemical engineers
• Civil engineers
• Computer scientists
• Material scientists
• Mathematical modellers
• Mechanical engineers
• Physicists
• Process and formulation engineers

For more information on specific members from the Management Group, please click on the names below:

Professor Paul D. Topham (Director) 


Dr Richard Martin (Deputy Director) 


Dr Yuqing Zhang (Deputy Director)


Dr Georgios Kyriakou

The AIMR has access to a wide range of materials testing and characterisation equipment.

•Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)
•Dynamic Mechanical Analyser (DMA)
•Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC)
•Fourier Transform Infra-Red (FTIR) Spectroscopy with Optical Microscopy & Temperature Control
•Gel Permeation Chromatography
•High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)- LCMS
•Nano-Indentation Tester (NIT)
•Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy
•Raman Spectroscopy
•Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEMs)
•Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA)

Biomaterials & Biomedical Devices

At Aston we are developing, manufacturing and characterising a range of synthetic biomaterials for both hard and soft tissue engineering applications. Examples include orthopaedic implants, polymers for contact lenses, bioactive glasses for bone repair, composites for dental applications and bio-degradable packaging.

Biomedical Engineering Research Unit
Biomaterials Research Unit

Particle and Membrane Technology

New materials underpin chemical separation and transformation processes needed to meet global challenges, such as ensuring access to clean energy and water and tackling climate change. Our scientists are designing particulate and membrane systems, enabling precision separation of water from contaminated sources and upgrade of second-generation biofuels.

Advanced Materials

We work on a range of functional materials including carbon fibres, catalysts, ceramics, glasses, nano-diamonds, nanotubes, polymers, semiconductors and thin films for real-world applications. Here, we are using the latest processing technologies, such as 3D printing, to fabricate many different types of innovative devices from advanced functional materials.

Polymer Processing and Performance Research Unit

Multiscale Modelling

Our theoretical and computer models of materials cover many orders of magnitude in scale – from atoms to chemical reactors and real world scales. Cutting edge multi-physics concepts are implemented in code running on the best computers in the world in Europe and Japan.

Nano- to Macro- Characterisation

Within AIMR we currently characterise materials over 15 orders of magnitude. We investigate the arrangements of atoms (nanoscale) through to fibres which are hundreds of km in length (macro) and all length scales in between.

Nanoscience Research Group 

Infrastructure Materials

Materials are at the heart of modern infrastructure. In AIMR we are developing and characterising asphalt, bitumen, concrete, unbound aggregates, pavement structures and materials/devices for building integration. We undertake experimental non-destructive evaluations as well as constitutive modelling and numerical simulations.

There are positions for Post-Doctoral researchers and PhD studentships available from time to time, please check regularly.

If you are interested in completing a PhD programme in this research institute please contact us by email to find out more about current opportunities.

Support for international students

UKCOSA: UKCOSA: The Council for International Education provides advice and information to international students studying in the UK and to staff who work with them. 

British Council: The British Council offers awards and scholarships to certain international students, and information about a wider range of schemes. Details of the award schemes should be obtained from the British Council's representative in the candidate's own country. The web site also offers access to a database to search for other sources of funding.

Graduate Prospects website 
Research Council Postgraduate Training
Newton Fund 
Education in UK 

Alternative sources of funding: There are numerous trusts, charities and foundations that award partial funding for postgraduate study (they rarely award total funding), although with record numbers of applications for these small pools of money, you will need a strong case to make a successful application. 

Commonwealth Scholarship Commission: Administers a range of Scholarships available to students from Commonwealth countries. Includes scholarships for MSc and PhD studies, and Scholarships for persons holding academic positions in their home countries. The Web Site provides a comprehensive list.

Marie Curie Actions: This website provides an overview of the training, mobility and career development opportunities covered under the Horizon 2020 EU Programme. These opportunities are open to researchers of all ages and levels of experience regardless of nationality, and are one of the most visible means of developing and enhancing human resources in the European Research Area (ERA). 

The Croucher Foundation: A number of Fellowship awards & Scholarships are available to permanent residents of Hong Kong, for studies in natural science, technology or medicine. 

The Fulbright Commission : The Fulbright Commission has available awards for US citizens who wish to undertake postgraduate study in the United Kingdom. 

Chevening Scholarships: Nationally competitive awards for taught MSc courses. These awards are aimed at people who are already established in a career in their home country and wish to acquire new skills before returning home to apply them. Generally successful candidates are aged 25-35.

Other sources of funding

There are a large number of funding opportunities, across the technology readiness levels, to facilitate industry-academia, academia-academia collaboration, nationally and internationally. 

The Aston Research and Enterprise Office (REO) is on hand to help Aston Institute of Materials Research and their partners to identify the most appropriate opportunity, and develop high-quality fundable research proposals. 

Have a look here for a sample of the funding opportunities available. 

Please contact Paul Knobbs, EU Funding and Large Project Partner, for more information about specific opportunities.

Please use the links below for funding information and guidance.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
Innovate UK
Royal Academy of Engineering

Research Councils UK (RCUK)
Horizon 2020
Royal Society


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